Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Credible report of another piece of MH370 found far from search area

About five weeks ago Walt passed on a report of the finding, on a beach in southern Thailand, of what looked like a piece of wreckage from some sort of aircraft. The accompanying pix were far from proof that the debris was from a B-777, the kind of plane operated by Malaysian Airlines as flight MH370, or indeed from an airplane, period. The flotsam could have been part of a surfboard, as some experts suggested at the time.

A further problem with that report was the location of the finding -- a beach in southern Thailand, far from the island of Réunion, in the western Indian Ocean, which was where the only authenticated part from the missing aircraft washed up months earlier. Nothing further was heard about this, so the initial suspicion must be assumed to have been well founded.

Today, however, AP reports that debris that washed up in Moçambique (or Mozambique, using the English spelling) has been tentatively identified as a part from a Boeing 777, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. (Walt asks again why these reports about a Malaysian aircraft which supposedly disappeared in international airspace/waters always seem to come from unnamed American officials!)

According to AP, photos of the debris that washed up over the weekend appear to show the fixed leading edge of the right-hand tail section of a B-777. People who have handled the part, called a horizontal stabilizer, say it appears to be made of fibreglass composite on the outside, with aluminum honeycombing on the inside, the official said. The part is being transported to Malaysia.

Joao Abreu, Mozambique’s National Director of Civil Aviation, denied that authorities have found part of the missing plane, but Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai tweeted to confirm the discovery. "Based on early reports, high possibility debris found in Mozambique belongs to a B777," he wrote. "It is yet to be confirmed & verified. dca—malaysia working w Australian counterparts to retrieve the debris." He also urged "everyone to avoid undue speculation as we are not able to conclude that the debris belongs to #mh370 at this time."

A glance at the atlas tells us that Mozambique is on the southeast coast of Africa, to the west of Madagascar which in turn is west of Réunion. As the map in "Current thinking on MH370" (WWW 31/7/15) shows, the Aquinas and Moçambique currents could easily have carried debris to Réunion or Madagascar or Moçambique from the site of a "water landing" somewhere around... wait for it... Diego Garcia, the location of a massive US military base.

The map also shows that Diego Garcia and the possible site of the crash are in the north central part of the Indian Ocean, 1000s of miles from the search area suggested by, errr, the US military. Draw your own conclusions.

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