Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wreckage on shores of WESTERN Indian Ocean IS from MH370

This is the third time I've posted a map of the Indian Ocean, to which I've added arrows showing the direction of key ocean currents, and a red star showing the location of the US military base at Diego Garcia. Look at this as you read my list of the three pieces of aircraft wreckage which have washed up on the shores of Réunion, Mozambique and South Africa. Australian authorities have now confirmed that the second piece, recovered earlier this month, is "highly likely" to have come from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared just over two years ago.

To summarize... MH370 was carrying 239 pax and crew when it vanished shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia, just above centre right on the map) bound for Beijing on 8 March 2014. When last "observed" by radar, it was heading to the northwest, roughly in the direction of the West Equatorial current, which I've drawn on in black.

For reasons about which we can only speculate, the Australian authorities who took charge of the search thought that the plane then made a turn of roughly 180 degrees, flying on southeasterly course for as long as five hours before plunging into the ocean somewhere off the west coast of Australia, which is where they've been searching ever since.

Even though the search area has been doubled from 60,000 square kilometres (as shown) to 120,000, they've found... wait for it... nil, nada, bupkis... nothing at all.

Meanwhile... in July of 2015 a piece of aircraft wreckage was found on the island of Réunion. You'll find it on the other side of the map, in the western part of the Indian Ocean, 1000 of kilometres from the search area. The wreckage turned out to be a flaperon, which French experts confirmed in September came from the ill-fated B-777.

Fast forward to the first week of this month, when a US adventurer who was carrying out his own independent search for MH370 found a white, metre-long chunk of metal off the coast of Mozambique. That's in the southeastern part of Africa, at the west end of the Indian Ocean. The Aquinas Current flows in a southerly direction between the island of Madagascar and the African mainland. Today, Reuters reports that a Malaysian government investigation team has found that "both pieces of debris" [sic] are consistent with panels from a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft.

Reuters quotes Australia's minister for infrastructure and transport, Darren Chester, as saying that "The analysis has concluded the debris is almost certainly from MH370. That such debris has been found on the east coast of Africa is consistent with drift modelling...and further affirms our search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean."

Excuse me for doubting, but it seems to me equally if not more plausible that the wreckage found along the paths of the Aquinas and Moçambique Currents -- see map!!! -- drifted south from from the site of a "water landing" somewhere in the northwest sector of the Indian Ocean. Let's say somewhere around, oh, Diego Garcia!

But wait (as Vince Offer would say), there's more! Just yesterday we learned that yet another piece of debris -- an inlet cowling from a Rolls Royce jet engine -- had been found. Guess where? Off the coast of Australia? Errr, no. See "Piece of MH370 engine cover washes up on South African shore". A Malaysian team is en route to Seff Africa to retrieve this latest find. Walt waits with bated breath to hear what Mr. Chester will say if this piece too turns out to belong to MH370.

What investigators really need to find is the main underwater wreckage, which would hold the plane's "black boxes" (flight data recorders). These should reveal details related to the plane's controls, including whether aircraft systems that might have helped track the plane were deliberately turned off, as some investigators believe. Walt suggests (once again) that the investigators ask the US military for a little help. They would surely lend a hand, wouldn't they... unless of course they had something to hide.

Further reading: Walt presented this map for the first time in "Current thinking on MH370", 31/7/15. I'll wait until the Americans fess up before saying I told you so.

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