MS Risk Blog

Air Expert States MH370 was Flown into Water

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A world-leading air crash investigator has stated that he believes that flight MH370 was deliberately flown into the sea. The Boeing 777 disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board in March 2014.

Speaking to Australian news programme 60 Minutes, Canadian Larry Vance disclosed that erosion along the trailing edge of recovered wing parts indicates a controlled landing. Mr Vance was formerly investigator-in-charge for the Canadian Aviation Safety Board and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. He has led more than 200 air crash investigations. He was the chief author of a report into the 1998 Swissair flight 111 crash off Nova Scotia, Canada, in which 229 people were killed. The force of that crash broke the plane into more than two million pieces. He has told 60 Minutes that an absence of such wreckage was one factor that suggests MH370 landed in controlled circumstances. During the programme, he states that “somebody was flying the airplane at the end of its flight…Somebody was flying the airplane into the water. There is no other alternate theory that you can follow.”

An Australian-led search for the mission jet has focused on an area of the ocean floor 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles) off Australia’s western coast. The zone was selected based on the theory that the flight was running on autopilot after veering off course. An official co-ordinating the search effort however has told 60 Minutes that the wreckage could be outside the search zone, if someone had been in control of the plane when it crashed. Despite the extensive search of the southern Indian Ocean, no trace of the aircraft was found until the discovery of a wing section, called a flaperon, on Reunion Island off Madagascar one year ago. Mr Vance states that photographs of the recovered flaperon depict a jagged edge, which suggests high-pressure water erosion that could only be caused if someone had been flying the plane into the ocean. He further states that “the force of the water is really the only thing that could make that jagged edge that we see. It wasn’t broken off. If it was broken off, it would be a clean break. You couldn’t even break that thing.” He also disclosed that the fact that the flaperon had apparently been deployed for landing also indicated that someone was piloting the plane when it hit the ocean, stating, “you cannot get the flaperon to extend any other way than if somebody extended it…Somebody would have to select it.”   Peter Foley, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) programme director of the search, has also told 60 Minutes that the type of damage the flaperon sustained provided evidence for the controlled landing theory. Mr Foley was asked: “If there was a rogue pilot, isn’t it possible that the plane was taken outside the parameters of the search area?” To which he replied: “Yeah – if you guided the plane or indeed control-ditched the plane, it has an extended range, potentially,” adding, “there is a possibility…somebody (was) in control at the end and we are actively looking for evidence to support that.”

Mr Vance’s theory is just the latest to emerge on what has become one of aviation’s greatest unsolved mysteries. The search for MH370 has been combing a 120,000 sq km area of seabed using underwater drones and sonar equipment from specialist ships. It is expected to draw to a close by the end of the year if it does not find credible new evidence.

Confirmed/Suspected MH370 Debris Found

  1. A section of wing called a flaperon, found on Reunion Island in July 2015 was confirmed in September 2015 as debris from MH370.
  2. Horizontal stabilizer from tail section was found between Mozambique and Madagascar in December 2015.
  3. Stabilizer panel with “No Step” stencil was found in Mozambique in February 2016.
  4. Engine cowling bearing Rolls-Royce logo was found in March 2016 in Mossel Bay, South Africa.
  5. A fragment of interior door panel was found in Rodrigues Island, Mauritius in March 2016.
  6. Fragments, including what appears to be a seat frame, a coat hook and other panels, were found on Nosy Boraha Island in northeast Madagascar.
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