MH370 Family Members Begin Madagascar Visit to Encourage Coastal Debris Searches

♠ Posted by Mick Rooney in ,,
(PIC - Grace Nathan)
One thousand days have passed since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8th, 2014, after its departure from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The Boeing 777 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew was bound for Beijing and to this day the only trace of the aircraft has been 22 pieces of debris washed ashore off the coast of the East African continent in places like Mauritius, Madagascar, Le Reunion and mainland beaches in Tanzanian and South Africa. Some of the debris has been conclusively identified as part of 9M-MRO, the registered Boeing 777 which serviced the ill-fated flight. Other pieces of debris are "almost certainly" from the aircraft according to the official investigation team, while other pieces have yet to be identified and conclusively linked.

For the families of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, it is the only tangible and physical evidence of what remains of the aircraft and what happened their loved ones.

Frustrated by how the current search is going and the lack of answers as to what happened, recent debris finds have prompted seven relatives of those lost on flight MH370 to travel to Madagascar and raise awareness about how local communities and members of the public can assist the investigation to find debris from the aircraft washed ashore off the eastern coast of Africa.

The relatives gave a press conference today (December 3rd) at Kuala Lumpur International Airport before they departed for Madagascar for a week-long trip to raise awareness in the region about MH370.


Background  

A two-and-a-half years search of the southern Indian Ocean, which began in 2014 and was based on Malaysian military primary radar and a series of pings picked up by British-based satellite company Inmarsat, has led to a search area of 120,000 square kilometres far from the western coast of Australia. Tasked by the lead investigation team and government  in Malaysia, the Australian Transport and Safety Board (ATSB) contracted Fugro and Phoenix International, using sea vessels equipped with side-scanning sonar and robotic AUV and ROVs, in an effort to locate the final seabed resting place of the aircraft and its 239 souls.

This search is due to be completed and suspended in Jan/Feb 2017 should no aircraft debris field be found on the seabed by then. On 30th March 2014, then Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott MP, established the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) to coordinate the Australian Government's support for the search into missing flight MH370. The JACC is the coordination point for whole-of-Australian Government information, messaging and stakeholder engagement, including keeping the families of those onboard and the general public informed of the progress of the search. The JACC has made it clear that without "new credible evidence" the search in the southern Indian Ocean will be suspended.

In November 2016, all parties and representative governments in the investigation and search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 met in Australia for a three-day meeting in what was described as a back-to-basics, open-ended reassessment of all available data. The results and conclusions of this meeting will be presented in a report at some point during 2017, though a specific date has not been agreed, it is expected to take several months before the report will be publicly presented.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of missing flight MH370 is that the collective efforts of multiple governments and aviation bodies, a $180 million search in the southern Indian Ocean, and an official aircraft investigation has reached ground zero and produced little of real substance to address the obvious Cry for Truth into the Where, How and Why of this tragedy.

Moreover, what the official investigation has offered up as tangible and physical evidence of 9M-MRO has not come from its sea search efforts, but rather from conscientious citizens, and independent and interested parties examining what available data is made public.

What remains of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 began to wash ashore some time during 2015 as floating debris emanating from the southern Indian Ocean impact area where 9M-MRO and its souls met their end.

Johny Begue, a sanitation worker on the beaches of Le Reunion, off the eastern coast of Africa, recalls how he found wing wreckage on July 29th, 2015, later identified as a right wing flaperon.

"I was searching for something to be used to collect rubbish, and I found the stuff on the beach. I thought it was probably a part of an airplane wing. There were a lot of shellfishes attached it. My colleagues and I carried it onshore and we believed that if it was a piece of plane wreckage, then there must be some casualties. We were sad, and we wanted to put it at a proper place and mourn the victims with flowers. One of my colleagues told the local radio station about this and the radio station contacted police immediately,"

Blaine Gibson, an American lawyer from Seattle, after he attended a one-year MH370 commemoration by relatives in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 was inspired to undertake a self-funded hunt coastal search for debris from the missing plane that has taken him everywhere, from the Maldives to Mauritius, Mozambique, Madagascar and Myanmar. Gibson, an adventurer and investigator by nature, sought the help of University of Western Australia (UWA) Professor of Coastal Oceanography Charitha Pattiaratchi. Pattiaratchi had been modelling the potential path of debris based on ocean currents and predictions of where impact debris would float from the area the aircraft was believed to have went down. While the eastern African coast in general was a clear area to search for coastal debris, Pattiaratchi specifically identified the coasts of Madagascar and Mozambique as primary areas that could be likely places to find aircraft debris from MH370.

Ultimately, over the period of a year, Gibson would discover more than nine pieces of debris, several have already been confirmed to come directly from 9M-MRO or certainly from a Boeing 777. And in 2016, Gibson, along with a growing list of other people like Luca Kuhn von Burgsdorff and Neels Kruger have found debris from the missing aircraft on beaches up and down the coast of Africa.

One of the most significant finds so far was a piece of 9M-MRO's right side wing flap found by a group of local fishermen on the shores of Pemba Island off the coast of Tanzania in June 2016. Recently released information by the ATSB has revealed that investigators and Boeing do not believe the wing flap or flaperon were in a deployed position for a landing/ditching end-of-flight scenario.

What is becoming increasingly troubling to relatives of those onboard MH370 is that the official investigation conducted by government and aviation authorities in Malaysia, Australia and China continue to primarily focus on a deep-sea search zone in the southern Indian Ocean which has so far found nothing of the missing aircraft.


Voice370 - Search On

Voice370 (Cry for Truth) is a supportive body set up by relatives of those onboard MH370. Following the recent joint meeting in Australia by the JACC of the official teams involved in the investigation, as part of its review and back-to-basics strategy, Voice370 has called on the investigation authorities to do more to focus on coastal debris finds and liaise with local African authorities to conduct coordinated searches for debris washed ashore. Though previously promised, no such coordinated operation has ever taken place, and potential coastal debris from flight MH370 continues to be found by ordinary citizens, not official investigators or local authorities.


It has prompted relatives to travel to Madagascar this week and next week to promote awareness of the existence of potential coastal debris, alert local communities, reach out to local authorities, and provide a brochure and action points debris finders should be aware of.



Finders of potential debris should not only follow the above guidelines, but also ensure that it is photographed 'in situ' where first found and number or lettering be carefully recorded visually and noted down in writing. Avoid taking home debris. This can lead to additional damage or corruption/contamination of what is ultimately technical and criminal evidence. Debris should be passed on to the local/national aviation authority to preserve the chain of custody of evidence. Members of Voice370 will be on hand for contact over the coming week to advise finders.



(MH370 relative speaking today at KLIA before departing for Madagascar)


Addendum

In November 2016 Aircraft Investigation obtained confidential files and documents from a secret Malaysian Police report conducted throughout 2014 on missing flight MH370. This report is detailed and runs to almost 1200 pages. It is extensive and examines the activity of operations of Malaysia Airlines, the aircraft itself, (9M-MRO), ground staff at KLIA, and activities and background of crew and passengers of MH370.

Aircraft Investigation is aware that other people (including those in media organisations) have chosen not only to sit and withhold much of this information from the general public, but instead to actively 'nitpick' data to feed entirely bias news stories, and cajole and intimidate family members, friends and people involved in the investigation to support scurrilous and misleading news stories purely for commercial gain. These people need to examine their own conscience when the time comes.

Aircraft Investigation has chosen to release files and documents from this Malaysia Police report in as much context as possible and where and when disclosure of such data does not harm or compromise people named in the report. Further disclosure can be found on the Aircraft Investigation Twitter feed. This continues to be an ongoing process of evaluation and disclosure.



  

Secret MH370 Investigative Documents: Less About the Who and More About the How

There has been much discussion over the past month about the existence of documents and reports related to the official investigation into Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared on March 8th, 2014, and has led to a technical and criminal investigation. The search for the aircraft is focussed in the South Indian ocean and is due to be suspended in December 2016 if no new credible evidence comes to light that leads to a refinement of the current search area or a new search elsewhere.

Over recent days I have been in private email exchanges with French journalist Florence de Changy, foreign correspondent, affiliated with Le Monde and French National radio, regarding confidential documents she has in her possession – confirmed both publicly (in a LeMonde article she wrote) and privately to me via email.

I want to stress that Florence has not shared these documents with me, nor has she described the specifics of what is contained in these documents or sources for her investigation of MH370. Florence has been investigating MH370 since its disappearance and has published a book based on her investigation in March 2016; LE VOL MH370 N'A PAS DISPARU. She is working to conclude an English version of the book with updates.

I want to thank Florence for entering into a dialogue over a number of days that I found constructive, frank and to the point. She has outlined her reasons and methodology for when is the right time to release confidential data and the means it is carried out. I’m going to respect that, though we do have disagreements on a number of issues.

I publicly stated that Florence should ‘Do the Right Thing”. For different journalists, the phase might be subjective. But I entirely accept that Florence believes she is doing the right thing. Again, I might disagree, and much of this opinion is based on how, particularly recently, information is reaching the public forum. I’m deeply dissatisfied as to how this has happened over the past six or more weeks. It has hurt and caused a great deal of distress to the very people who deserve and need the most support and respect – the families of passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

As journalists, we have to trust people, but above all, we also have to earn trust. We can trust and still learn that we were mistaken in placing our trust in someone. We are after all human, too.

As someone said to me this week, and who is very much publicly involved in the investigation into MH370 (it was a lengthy exchange, so I will paraphrase):

We are all divided; everyone seems to be pulling in different directions based on personal motivations, pet theories, agendas, egos, and filled with entrenched likes and dislikes of characters and personas. There is enough of a disconnect in the official investigation without us adding further to it on the sidelines. We need to all work together no matter our disagreements and differences.

During my dialogue with Florence this week (and I want to stress it was exclusive of the following point), a valid concern and reason was raised to me as to why the Royal Malaysian Police report (RMP) should not be released in full. It has given me quite some pause for consideration. I was very much vocal in its absolute release in full.

Again, while I have not had access or seen the RMP document, I do know from my own sources (those who were given access and have seen partial extracts) that it contains extensive personal information (very extensive, I might add) on passengers and crew which formed the basis for the Factual Report (FI) released in 2015 by Malaysian authorities. This RMP report includes social media interactions, text messages, phone calls, emails, work and financial details, and personal background checks. Full disclosure might leave families of passengers of MH370 wondering about their loved ones:

Will my daughter wonder why I texted my son goodbye at the airport and not her?

Does my wife want to know now after two years of not knowing that I had a gambling addiction she never knew about?

I was waiting to get back home before I told my dad mom’s tests at the hospital weren’t good?

While I present the above possibilities as fictitious, one only has to consider what was going on in the lives of those passengers and crew.

In the search for MH370, none of the above may matter to the rest of the world and get us closer to finding MH370, but they may just matter in a devastating way to a loved one.

So, the real question here is when a criminal investigation report is leaked, fully or partially, who exactly are the people who get to decide what is released, not published, redacted or cherry-picked, to serve a media hungry frenzy or a prescribed agenda?

We all want any data published that takes us a step closer to knowing the where, how and why of MH370. But we must also ask who is in custodianship of that data (official and unofficial), now; not last week, a month ago, or a year ago.

Perhaps we should also consider how such secret documents are also released in a way that does not cause more harm than good, and yet gets us no closer to finding the answers to MH370.


UPDATE: September 8th, 2016.
The Malaysian High Court has today ordered all documents pertaining to the disappearance of MH370 to be provided to 76 family members of the passengers in a civil suit against Malaysian Airlines System Berhad (MAS). The next-of-kin of the passengers sought the release of 37 documents, including communications, correspondence, documents and other materials, notes, memoranda, internal documents and investigators reports in relation to MH370.


The court has filed a date of October 20th for documents to be exchanged.

Fire or Bomb Remain Theories for EgyptAir Flight 804 as Search Locates Surface Debris

♠ Posted by Mick Rooney in ,,
The search for EgyptAir Flight 804 continues in the Mediterranean Sea. The aircraft left Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Cairo International Airport on 19 May and disappeared off ATC radar within a half hour of its expected landing in Egypt.

According to Greek military radar data, Flight 804 veered off course shortly after entering the Egyptian airspace. At an altitude of 37,000 feet (11,000 metres), the aircraft made a 90-degree left turn, followed by a 360-degree right turn, and then began to descend sharply. Radar contact was lost at an altitude of about 10,000 ft (3,000 m).

On 20 May, France's Bureau of Investigations and Analysis (BEA) in France confirmed that Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) messages contained the following data.

00:26Z 3044 ANTI ICE R WINDOW
00:26Z 561200 R SLIDING WINDOW SENSOR
00:26Z 2600 SMOKE LAVATORY SMOKE
00:27Z 2600 AVIONICS SMOKE
00:28Z 561100 R FIXED WINDOW SENSOR
00:29Z 2200 AUTO FLT FCU 2 FAULT
00:29Z 2700 F/CTL SEC 3 FAULT

No further ACARS messages were received, and contact with the aircraft was lost four minutes later at 00:33 UTC. The data, confirmed by BEA indicates that smoke may have been detected in the front of the airliner - in the front lavatory and the avionics bay beneath the cockpit. Smoke detectors of the type installed on the aircraft can also be triggered by water vapour in the event of a sudden loss of pressure inside the cabin. The three windows mentioned in the data are cockpit-windows. The flight control unit (FCU) is a cockpit-fitted unit that the pilot uses to enter instructions into the on-board flight computer. The spoiler elevator computer number 3 (SEC 3) is the computer that controls the spoilers and elevator actuators.Two pilots interpreted the data as evidence of a possible bomb.

Smoke or condensation was detected in one of the aircraft's lavatories and in the avionics bay shortly before it disappeared from radar. No emergency call was received by air traffic control. Experts are investigating the cause of the disaster.

By 21 May, SAR vessels began recovering small pieces of debris, including seats, body parts and both interior and exterior components..

FlyDubai 737 Crashes in Russia While Attempting Second Landing

♠ Posted by Mick Rooney in ,,
Photo - Mohammadreza Farhadi (Airlines.net)
A FlyDubai Boeing 737-800 passenger jet crashed early Saturday morning while attempting to land at its destination airport in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. All 55 passengers and seven crew members were killed when the aircraft heavily impacted the ground about 250 metres short of the runway and within the airport perimeter. It erupted into a fireball and responding emergency crews took more than an hour to finally bring the fires at the crash site under control.


Investigators are examining poor weather conditions and pilot error as potential reasons for the accident. Russian media reported that at least one flight had landed and later took off at the airport during the time FlyDubai flight FZ981 was circling. Other media reports suggest some flights during early Saturday morning did divert to other airports due to the heavy gusting wings.

FlyDubai officials confirmed that flight FZ981 had crashed on landing and the passenger manifest has been released. It listed the nationalities as 44 Russian, eight Ukrainian, two Indian, and one passenger from Uzbekistan.