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Flaperon washes up on Reunion Island

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Flaperon washes up on Reunion Island

Old 26th Jan 2016, 17:31
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Seems like someone screwed up - big-time. If the Fugro crew had the Geoscience "3-dimension, detailed, high-resolution" survey to hand - as they should have had - then possibly, some highly embarrassing explanations may end up being produced by the crew, as to how they managed to hit the volcano
.

Not necessarily. The bathymetric survey is over a year old (see link in your post) and active volcanoes - mud or otherwise - grow with time. Totally possible that this one was charted but had grown beyond expectation in the interval.

Last edited by 172driver; 26th Jan 2016 at 17:32. Reason: typo
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 22:37
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Volcanoes, mud or otherwise, don't announce themselves so, tripping over one a year after a survey sounds real enough. One just has to wonder what the potential for one of those volcanoes tipping its effluent over - and burying forever - MH370.
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Old 27th Jan 2016, 00:37
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I'm not sure that the growth rate of a mud volcano is substantial enough to increase that much in height over 12-18 mths, to provide a bigger obstacle than the sea-bed bathymetric survey from May to December 2014 would show.

I would imagine that a pure and simple navigation error would likely be the highest possible reason behind the collision with the mud volcano.
Perhaps there's strong currents near the sea bed that pulled the towfish out of its normal tracking course, and caused the collision.

As far as MH370 being buried in a mud flow, that is entirely likely, particularly if the aircraft landed in deep mud when it settled to the sea bed.
There are large areas of very soft sediment in the sea bed in the search area, and I don't know what the ATSB and Fugro have considered, with regard to finding the aircraft, if it was virtually fully concealed by mud.

I would imagine the travel speed of a sinking aircraft fuselage would still be fairly substantial as it approached the sea-bed - because the shape of a fuselage would encourage speed through the water as it sank.
Thus there's the potential for substantial burial of at least the major portion of the fuselage, thereby making the fuselage wreckage extremely difficult to spot.

I have not seen this angle discussed anywhere in the reams of search information - but I'm guessing the ATSB is just plainly confident the tools that Fugro are using will find even a substantially-buried fuselage.

They have found two shipwrecks that are obviously badly decayed and spread around after a century or two on the sea-bed - so I guess the searchers are confident that they can find even the smaller pieces of the wreckage of MH370.

My personal opinion is that the fact that they have searched for so long, and not found even the slightest trace of any debris, leads one to conclude the aircraft is not in the current search zone, and at least some of the calculations used are seriously wrong.
Those calculations, of course, are the ones where the greatest doubt exists - as to aircraft height, speed and throttle settings - and where extrapolated figures have been used.
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Old 27th Jan 2016, 16:06
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Originally Posted by onetrack View Post
Those calculations, of course, are the ones where the greatest doubt exists - as to aircraft height, speed and throttle settings - and where extrapolated figures have been used.
There are some pretty detailed PDF files available showing how they chose the current search area, and the methods look pretty good. It's not just 'well, we guessed it was flying straight and level at normal cruise speed and altitude', but 'we tested a vast number of possible routes with randomly varying altitude, speed and direction along the route, and these ones best matched the satellite signals'.

So we can be pretty sure the final 'ping' was in this search area.

The problem is that we have no information about what happened after that 'ping'. If someone was still at the controls and glided as far as possible, it's going to be outside the current search area. If it spiralled into the sea, it should be inside the search area
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Old 27th Jan 2016, 17:39
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It is obviously disappointing for everyone involved to have made such efforts and still not found any sea floor wreckage. I was looking back through the early documents issued by Inmarsat and noted the position of the first "hot spot" they published. It is a little bit north of the current search area.
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Old 27th Jan 2016, 18:47
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I would imagine the travel speed of a sinking aircraft fuselage would still be fairly substantial as it approached the sea-bed - because the shape of a fuselage would encourage speed through the water as it sank.
Thus there's the potential for substantial burial of at least the major portion of the fuselage, thereby making the fuselage wreckage extremely difficult to spot.

I have not seen this angle discussed anywhere in the reams of search information - but I'm guessing the ATSB is just plainly confident the tools that Fugro are using will find even a substantially-buried fuselage.
From many years experience with sonar I would suggest that if a mud is so soft that it will allow wreckage to sink in then it will also allow the search beam to penetrate and you would be very likely able to spot the signature.
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Old 28th Jan 2016, 00:02
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The search isn't over yet

They still have a fair amount to search, and I'm really hoping they find it. From a Bayesian standpoint, though, the odds go down the longer they search.
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Old 28th Jan 2016, 01:16
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Yes. According to a JACC update on 27 January 2016, "120,000 square kilometres will be thoroughly searched...More than 85,000 square kilometres of the seafloor have been searched so far."

I came up with about 70% complete. So there's still hope for a successful conclusion to the search.
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Old 28th Jan 2016, 04:54
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I was looking back through the early documents issued by Inmarsat and noted the position of the first "hot spot" they published. It is a little bit north of the current search area.
The fact that the flaperon washed up on Reunion Island, seems to point to a more Northerly splashdown, as compared to a Southerly splashdown.

The fact that not a single piece of MH370 wreckage of any kind has washed up on the shores of Western Australia - which would be about a 95%+ possibility, from the current search zone - would also add weight to the more Northerly splashdown point scenario.

Detractors speaking about the vast unihabitated coastline of Western Australia being the reason for the lack of washed up wreckage being found on W.A. shores, fail to grasp the fact that the Indian Ocean off the W.A. coast is well-populated with shipping of all sizes - including a very large amount of small private craft - and that even the more remote shores of the W.A. coastline are regularly traversed by fishing fanatics.

I cannot imagine that any remnant floating debris - apart from the most miniscule portions - would have to been able to get within reach of, or land on, the W.A. coastline, without being spotted.
The general interest level is high within the W.A. boating and fishing industry towards the sighting of any aircraft wreckage - it's not like these people are totally unaware of the MH370 disaster.

The Southern Indian Ocean is noted for strong wind forcing of currents. MH370 crashed in early March, as the central part of the Southern Indian was still under the influence of strong prevailing Easterly winds that dominate the upper half of Australia, and the Southern Indian Ocean, above about 30 deg latitude during the Australian Summer and Autumn (Fall).
These strong winds continue across the Indian Ocean to Africa during this period - ensuring any floating debris is pushed Westwards and North-Westwards.
These winds would not have abated and moved Northwards until at least mid-May - ensuring any floating debris from MH370, if it crashed anywhere North of about 30 deg latitude - would have been pushed away from the W.A. coast.

As the Southern Winter approaches Australia from mid-May, with a movement of stronger prevailing Westerly and South-Westerly (onshore) winds gradually shifting further and further Northwards as Winter progresses - then, these winds ensure that any floating debris South of about 26 deg latitude is driven onto the W.A. coast.
The 26th parallel on the West Coast of Australia is regarded as the division point between tropical and temperate zones, and this division is determined to a substantial degree by prevailing winds.
However, in Summer, strong Easterly winds prevail across Western Australia and the Southern Indian Ocean on a regular basis, reaching as far South as about 33 deg, up to around mid-February.

Looking back at the ATSB search zone graphics, the search zone has been continuously extended further and further South as time goes on - obviously on the basis of constant re-evaluation of the inputs and calculations.

However, perhaps it's time to go back to the Northern portion of the search zone, as it could be likely that "initial calculations" on a more Northerly splashdown position were basically correct, and further examination and re-calculation has only "muddied the waters", so to speak.
It's quite possible, IMO, that constant revision of inputs and calculations has only led the searchers away from the likely splashdown point - which could have possibly been missed, by only the tiniest margin.
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Old 28th Jan 2016, 19:03
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I agree. I have very similar thoughts about this.
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Old 29th Jan 2016, 02:30
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The Australian Bureau of Meteorology keep substantial records, and the BOM's weather-recording ability is far-reaching. The BOM's synoptic charts reach extends into the MH370 search zone - and their archived records of their observations are publically and easily accessible.

On the webpage below, one can acquire the archived records of the synoptic charts for Australia, whereby the area of the "7th arc" and the current search zone are covered by the synoptic charts.

If one selects the archived period from the 8th March 2014 to say, the 17th March 2014 - then that would encompass the first 9 days after MH370's disappearance (incidentally, the synoptic chart for 8th March is timed at 0000 UTC - which coincides very closely with the flight end time).

From that archive (from which you can select individual chart images, or a loop), we see that MH370 - if it crashed in the current search zone - crashed in an area which was essentially a fairly calm centre of a high pressure system.
The weather patterns in March in this region are fairly stable, slow-moving high-pressure systems.
Naturally, the winds are stronger the further they are from the centre of the high - but in general the winds are steady and consistent.
The prevailing surface winds would be the primary factor affecting the movement of MH370 wreckage in the fortnight to a month following the crash.
After that period, sea currents could have had increasing input into the wreckage movement. In general though, the primary sea currents in the Southern Indian Ocean, follow a counter-clockwise pattern.

The weather pattern for the current search zone was quite steady and stable for more than a week following the crash day.
This was the period when there was no air searching of this zone, the searching was concentrated around SE Asia. The search did not extend to the Southern Indian Ocean until 17th March 2014.

Thus, there were 9 days when there was no search activity in the zone where the ATSB is now convinced the aircraft was lost.
During that 9 days, the current search zone was subject to South-Westerly winds in the area below about 32-33 deg S - progressing to moderate-strength Southerly winds between the current search zone and the W.A. coast - and increasingly stronger Easterly winds in the Northern sector of the search zone, and closer to the Northern part of the W.A. coast.

In effect - if the flight crashed in the Southern sector of the current search zone, any remnant floating wreckage - of which there would have been enough to be found by air observations - would have commenced its movement in a North-Easterly direction towards the W.A. coast.

However, after several days, the wreckage movement would have then been Northwards, then Westwards, as the stronger Easterly winds in the Northern sector would have then been speeding up the wreckage movement - away from the W.A. coast - and away from the aerial and sea search efforts, that have been transferred to the Southern Indian Ocean, from the 17th March onwards.

IF the flight had crashed even further North, on the Northern edge of the calculated search zone, then the Westwards movement of the wreckage would have been immediate and even faster than if the flight crashed in the extreme South of the search zone.

The point I am making is that the fact that no floating wreckage that could ever be confirmed that it came from MH370, leads one to consider that a more Northerly crash site has a higher probability, than a deep Southerly crash site.
If the crash site was well to the South - and taking into account the 9 days delay in searching the Southern Indian Ocean - then the possibility of remnant floating wreckage being sighted in the initial SIO searches (both aerial and sea), would have been much higher, because the weather patterns would have favoured the movement of the wreckage towards the W.A. coast, even if only for the first fortnight.

There is also the interesting feature of the Indian Ocean Gyre rubbish patch. This rubbish patch was only discovered in 2010, and it circulates counter-clockwise with the IOG - with the rubbish seemingly taking 6 years to do a full circle of the Gyre - and with the likelihood that rubbish reaching the centre of the Gyre, in the central section of the Southern Indian Ocean, could stay in that region indefinitely.

BOM - Synoptic charts archive
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Old 29th Jan 2016, 07:24
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I see that China has just sent an extra ship to join the search:
China's ship to join search for missing MH370 jet in Indian Ocean_World_TIBET

I wonder if this will allow some extra flexibility for the extension of the search area?
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Old 29th Jan 2016, 10:42
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That's interesting. I wonder why the Chinese waited until now to offer their ship? After all, it's close on 2 yrs now since MH370 vanished, and surely the Chinese are not that short of shipping, that it has taken them 2 yrs to find an available spare ship?

I get the impression that the ATSB are not going to extend the search area, and they seem quite firm on this.
All that the Chinese ship will do, I would imagine, is speed up the conclusion of the search - which was planned for June this year, as I understand.


The CSIRO drift analysis for MH370 is obviously guiding the ATSB search effort, since not long after the flaperon was found.
Under the heading "Forward drift from other segments of the 7th arc", the CSIRO seems assured that the washing up of the flaperon on Reunion is inconsistent with a more Northerly crash site - and they are virtually confirming that the current Southerly search zone is the area of the most likely origin of the flaperon.

In the conclusion, they state the region between 32 deg S and 39 deg S is the area of greatest probability of the crash site.
However, all of their drift modelling still shows that at least some floating wreckage, from a crash site located between 32 and 39 deg S, should have been visible to the aerial searchers, in the SIO areas covered between 17th March 2014, to later in that year.

The fact that no floating wreckage was ever found by any aerial or sea searcher is the most confounding part of the whole story (particularly when you see the size and amount of search effort put in) - and it leads to simple suspicions that any floating wreckage was outside the aerial and sea search areas covered between mid-March 2014 to mid-year 2014 - and that this possibility should be a consideration in any modelling or further computations.

MH370 - CSIRO drift analysis
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Old 29th Jan 2016, 21:02
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"no floating wreckage was ever found by any aerial or sea searcher"

Aerial searchers and satellites did spot debris, but couldn't examine it. Ships sent to investigate couldn't locate it. This was a very difficult situation- enormous search area and long transit times, plus the long delay before they even started searching in the correct hemisphere.

Historically it is not unusual for an airliner to be lost at sea without a trace, even when the search was started within 24 hrs and the approximate location was known. Example, the Varig B707 PP-VLU, which went down in 1979 approximately 200 km from Tokyo.

Consequently, I read nothing into the failure to find a floating debris field.
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Old 29th Jan 2016, 21:51
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Originally Posted by PrivtPilotRadarTech View Post
"

Historically it is not unusual for an airliner to be lost at sea without a trace, even when the search was started within 24 hrs and the approximate location was known. Example, the Varig B707 PP-VLU, which went down in 1979 approximately 200 km from Tokyo.

Consequently, I read nothing into the failure to find a floating debris field.

I thought this case was the only one that nothing was found all the other cases had some debris found.
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Old 29th Jan 2016, 23:07
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This one has never been found. It is probably sitting on the seabed intact. Controlled ditching after running out of fuel.


ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 727-247 OB-1303 Newfoundland, Canada
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Old 30th Jan 2016, 01:22
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Wikipedia has a "List of Missing Aircraft". Admittedly, most do not fit the criteria of "airliners that disappeared without a trace at sea", but some do. (BSAA Star Ariel is a famous one) The Varig 707 case is instructive because it happened so close to Tokyo. If a large jet could disappear without a trace there, imagine how much easier it would be in a thousand mile swath thru the middle of nowhere...
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Old 30th Jan 2016, 04:59
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But what was the search level associated with the other missing aircraft mentioned?
In many cases, search efforts are minimal, thus the reason for the listed "total disappearance".

In the case of MH370, the search effort, both aerial and sea-based, has been the most extensive, and the most costly in the history of the aviation world.

The initial aerial search efforts by sizeable numbers of multiple engine aircraft, with multiple searchers aboard - that produced precisely nothing - is what remains the most disconcerting feature of the whole MH370 search performance.
One only has to look at the amount of floating debris found from AF447, to see that there was plenty - and it spread out as well.

Admittedly, we're talking a completely different aircraft type as compared to AF447 - but a crash into the ocean surface produces fairly similar results, regardless of aircraft type.
There may be a somewhat higher percentage of composites in an Airbus A330 as compared to the B777 - but there's still a large percentage of an aircraft structure that floats.

I don't buy the line that the Captain of MH370 did a Captain Sullenberger-style Hudson landing on the open ocean, and MH370 stayed fairly intact - despite the fact that the open ocean can sometimes be relatively smooth.
"Relatively smooth" in the open ocean is still rough water, and an aircraft still breaks up. Only floatplanes are designed to land on water - and smooth water at that.
IMO, even after 9 day delay in the start of the search in the SIO - some debris should have been sighted, if patrolling aircraft were within 200-300 miles of the actual crash location.

The fact that, if the actual crash location is between 32 - 39 deg S - as the CSIRO and the ATSB are convinced - then the floating wreckage, after 9 days and more, would have been initially making its way in the general direction of South-Western Australia - where flights were originating from - and this makes the lack of wreckage sighting even more inexplicable.

Wreckage from MH370 should have been within the flight paths of the searching aircraft to and from YPPH & YPEA, and should have been sighted from them - unless the searchers only switched on, when over the calculated search zone, and switched off, once they left the outlined zone.
If the actual crash location was further North along the 7th arc, that would explain the lack of wreckage sighting - as the wreckage would have been moving Westwards and away from primary searchers almost immediately after the crash.
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Old 30th Jan 2016, 05:09
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Wreckage may have been sighted, but could not be investigated

The initial aerial search efforts by sizeable numbers of multiple engine aircraft, with multiple searchers aboard - that produced precisely nothing - is what remains the most disconcerting feature of the whole MH370 search performance.
I disagree. Aircraft did sight wreckage, but much of it was never investigated due to the remote area it was found. It is hard to determine what it is from the air, and I've done a lot of looking at the ocean from a P-3 Orion, one of the aircraft in the search.
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Old 1st Aug 2016, 10:07
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"MH370 was flown into water, says Canadian air crash expert"

This from the BBC website this morning, reporting an Australian news programme interview.

MH370 was flown into water, says Canadian air crash expert - BBC News
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