The mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was supposed to be nearing a conclusion after a piece of airline debris from a Boeing 777 aircraft was discovered July 29 on Reunion Island in the remote Indian Ocean — more than 2,000 miles from the "seventh arc" area of that ocean where the official search efforts to find the missing plane are focused.
Instead, the broken fragment of wing has only made the mystery of Flight MH370 even deeper and more baffling, as French investigators who have had the fragment — known as a "flaperon" — for the past month now say that they cannot definitely link the wing part to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
Their failure to confirm that the flaperon, pictured below, is actually wreckage from MH370 was first reported August 21 in the Toulouse-based newspaper La Dépêche. Toulose is also where the French investigators have been carrying out tests on the recovered flaperon. Read the Inquisitr report on the French investigation of the flaperon at this link.
Investigators say that the debris is definitely from a Boeing 777, but the part is missing an identification number that normally should be attached to the flaperon.
The uncertainty of the investigators is made even more confusing by the fact that of the five accidents in the history of the Boeing 777, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is the only one in which the plane crashed — or at least, is presumed to have crashed — into the ocean.
Investigators also say that the part did not match Malaysia Airlines' own maintenance records, "exactly."
"It's not clear exactly how one should interpret such language," wrote aviation expert and independent MH370 investigator Jeff Wise, in a New York Magazine article this week. "Airplane parts are engineered precisely, and any changes made to them must be meticulously logged by maintenance personnel. If a part has four holes instead of five, it doesn't just 'not match exactly' — it doesn't match."
But another aviation reporter, Ben Sandilands, says that the answer to Wise's question is probably no mystery at all. The fact is, according to Sands, many airlines play fast and loose with their maintenance records.
"Removing the costly and obviously unnecessary burden of such tiresome compliance with the regulations (where they exist) or even good housekeeping is quite popular according to some sources among airlines run by ignorant bean counters, although one hesitates to suggest that this might possibly have been the case with Malaysia Airlines," Sandilands wrote, with evident sarcasm, on his Plane Talking blog.
Sandilands calls Malaysia Airlines' response to the bizarre disappearance of Flight MH370 a "hideous farce" marked by "lack of disclosure and candor and above all care for the lives of its those on the Malaysia Airlines 777."
Wise notes another mystery raised by the discovery of the flaperon — the mystery of how the debris got to Reunion Island in the first place.
The presence of "goose barnicles," which can survive only underwater, covering the flaperon indicates, Wise says, that the wing part somehow drifted underwater for months before surfacing on the Reunion beach.
But objects, Wise notes, either float or sink. Unlike a scuba diver, a large hunk of metal is unlikely to remain 10 to 20 feet below the ocean's surface for possibly more than a year.
But perhaps the most perplexing question raised by the discovery of the flaperon is this: if the debris did not come from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 — where in the world did it come from?
[Image: BBC Screen Grab]