Miss­ing Malaysia jet frag­ment found off Mozam­bique

The Pak Banker - - COM­PA­NIES/BOSS -

In­ves­ti­ga­tors prob­ing the 2014 dis­ap­pear­ance of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370 are ex­am­in­ing an ob­ject found on the coast of Mozam­bique they sus­pect came from the miss­ing Boe­ing Co. 777, a per­son fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said.

The piece turned up on a sand­bank in Mozam­bique Chan­nel where de­bris from the In­dian Ocean washes up, ac­cord­ing to the per­son, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied be­cause he wasn't au­tho­rized to speak about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It ap­pears to be part of a 777 tail and, since there aren't any other cases in which that model has crashed, in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve it may have come from the plane that went miss­ing al­most two years ago, the of­fi­cial said.

If it's ver­i­fied, the item would be­come the sec­ond con­firmed piece of the jet­liner that dis­ap­peared from radar on March 8, 2014, while on a rou­tine flight to Bei­jing from Kuala Lumpur. It has since be­come one of avi­a­tion's most be­fud­dling mys­ter­ies. There has been no trace of the 239 peo­ple on board.

The dis­cov­ery of the 1-me­ter metal frag­ment on a beach in Mozam­bique shows in­ves­ti­ga­tors are cor­rect to fo­cus their search area for MH370 in the south­ern In­dian Ocean, the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment said Thurs­day.

The lo­ca­tion on Africa's east coast is con­sis­tent with ocean drift mod­el­ing car­ried out for the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Bureau, which is lead­ing the search, Dar­ren Ch­ester, Aus­tralia's min­is­ter for in­fra­struc­ture and trans­port, said in a state­ment. The frag­ment is be­ing trans­ferred to Aus­tralia to be ex­am­ined by Aus­tralian and Malaysian of­fi­cials, as well as in­ter­na­tional spe­cial­ists, Ch­ester said.

Ac­cord­ing to the per­son fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the lat­est de­bris is marked with the words "NO STEP." Pre­lim­i­nary anal­y­sis of pho­to­graphs by in­ves­ti­ga­tors in Malaysia, Aus­tralia and the U.S. sug­gests the piece is a fiber­glass and alu­minum sec­tion from the front of the hor­i­zon­tal sta­bi­lizer, the small wings at the tail, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial. "Based on early re­ports, high pos­si­bil­ity de­bris found in Mozam­bique be­longs to a B777," Malaysia's Trans­port Min­is­ter Liow Tiong Lai said in a Twit­ter post. "It is yet to be con­firmed & ver­i­fied" and Malaysian au­thor­i­ties are work­ing with Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts to re­trieve the de­bris, he said.

Boe­ing had no im­me­di­ate com- ment. "It's too spec­u­la­tive at this point for MAS to com­ment," Malaysia Air­lines said in re­sponse to ques­tions from Bloomberg News, re­fer­ring to it­self by its acro­nym.

A bar­na­cle-en­crusted wing flap was found last year on Re­u­nion Is­land, thou­sands of miles from the search area off Aus­tralia's west coast. The Mozam­bique lo­ca­tion where the lat­est find was made is at a sim­i­lar lwing fla­p­at­i­tude as Re­u­nion Is­land, about 1,300 miles (2,000 km) west.

The dis­cov­ery of a sec­ond piece in the same gen­eral area as the first tends to con­firm that searchers are look­ing for the plane in the right place, an arc from west of Aus­tralia curv­ing to­ward the South Pole, ac­cord­ing to John Cox, pres­i­dent of avi­a­tion con­sul­tant Safety Oper­at­ing Sys­tems in Wash­ing­ton.

"It's not con­clu­sive, but it is a bit more," said Cox, who has par­tic­i­pated in dozens of ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Ex­am­i­na­tion of the piece may be able to tell in­ves­ti­ga­tors some­thing about how Flight 370 came down and broke apart, Jim Wildey, for­mer chief of the U.S. Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board's ma­te­ri­als lab­o­ra­tory, said. If the piece broke loose as the plane crashed into the sea, it would ex­hibit dif­fer­ent types of dam­age than if the plane broke apart in midair, Wildey said. If it was par­tially crushed by the im­pact, that may also yield clues about plane's ori­en­ta­tion as it hit the wa­ter, he said.

NTSB in­ves­ti­ga­tors were able to use such tech­niques while in­ves­ti­gat­ing the July 17, 1996, crash of TWA Flight 800, which went down in the At­lantic Ocean near Long Is­land, New York, killing all 230 aboard, ac­cord­ing to Wildey.

Aus­tralia is lead­ing a search of the south­ern In­dian Ocean where in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve the plane flew af­ter turn­ing around be­tween Malaysia and Viet­nam and head­ing into one of the most re­mote ar­eas of the world. The path was es­ti­mated from pings be­tween the plane and a satel­lite af­ter other elec­tron­ics and ra­dios on the plane stopped func­tion­ing.

Some of the world's most ex­pe­ri­enced search-and-res­cue ex­perts are re­signed to the fact that the A$180 mil­lion ($130 mil­lion) search may fail. Without fresh clues, four ships are due to fin­ish comb­ing the seas off west­ern Aus­tralia in the mid­dle of the year, Martin Dolan, head of the ATSB, said in an in­ter­view with Bloomberg News last month. Within a rec­tan­gle the size of North Korea, ves­sels have scoured most of the patch be­lieved to be the prob­a­ble im­pact point -- and come up empty.

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