|Is this the real thing or a convincing Flaperon imposter?|
Julian Bray writes: Allegedly unhappy with the quality of debris being passed over by the Malaysian authorities, the French investigating magistrate is planning a trip to Malaysia, effectively ramping up French judiciary involvement in the current phase of the recovery operation surrounding missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Malaysian officials are furious that French investigators will still not fully confirm debris recovered so far (including the flaperon) is from the missing Boeing 777. A team of investigators led by Alain Gaudino, a French counterterrorism magistrate examining the flaperon in Toulouse, isn’t taking any chances and has ordered more invasive tests.
The French are treating this as a criminal investigation as French Nationals are also on the passenger list of the missing MH370.
French investigators have said the flaperon very likely came from the missing Boeing triple7. But they need undeniable evidence before they are willing to say 100% the flaperon broke off the actual Boeing 777er performing Flight MH370.
According to media sources, on Thursday Mr. Gaudino briefed Ghyslain Wattrelos,his wife, son and daughter were on the plane. The investigating magistrate told him an examination of the wing section didn’t yield confirmation it came from Flight 370.
French investigators have already drilled into the recovered wing section, searching for signs of a maintenance seal or tag that Malaysian authorities documented when the missing jet previously underwent repairs, according to Mr. Wattrelos and people familiar with the matter.
The findings of the French investigators didn’t match the available Malaysian aircraft service records, Mr. Gaudino said, according to Mr. Wattrelos.
Malaysian officials, maintain the discrepancies aren’t significant enough to challenge their conclusion, according to two people familiar with the investigation.
Malaysia’s transport minister said this week that paint on the wing section helped identify it as coming from the missing aircraft.
Mr. Gaudino maintains that the paint on the component appeared to come from its manufacturer, Boeing, not Malaysia Airlines, according to Mr. Wattrelos. It has also been highlighted that flaperons are also manufactured under a Boeing contract by a factory in Bangalore India, could this be a factory Flaperon reject, discarded and finally dumped in the Indian Ocean?
“To my knowledge, there isn’t paint specific to Malaysia Airlines,” said a spokeswoman for Paris prosecutors who are working with Mr. Gaudino. "In addition, the wing section’s placard (tag or label) —containing an all important serial number—appears to have fallen off, the spokeswoman added.
To confirm the debris is from Flight 370, the team will now have to forensically examine the interior box section of the flaperon, compare serial numbers, and match them if possible to elements known to have been inside the Flight 370 flaperon.
Investigators are also trying to match documented data with an identifying mark on a portion of the internal structure that would conclusively establish the flaperon’s identity.
On Friday, France began a new search for plane debris in the seas surronding Réunion, it is expected to continue for 7 days. Réunion officials maintain they couldn’t yet identify new debris found on the island as coming from an airplane, directly contradicting broadcasted public statements from Malaysian officials that the objects are from an airplane.
Safety experts including Julian Bray from the UK fear that Malaysian authorities are prematurely announcing that debris has been found, only to amend and correct statements later on, effectively raising hopes for them only to be cruelly dashed. These announcements also effectively delay the core investigation.
Malaysian officials however promised to coordinate more closely with other nations after sustaining damaging widespread criticism for poor PR and multiple communication gaffs.
The Boeing 777, disappeared on March 8, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, is thought to have entered the eastern Indian Ocean, hundreds of miles off the coast of Australia but technically and internationally agreed under Australian air traffic control. Weather experts say it is possible that ocean currents could have carried the debris from the possible crash location across the Indian Ocean to Réunion.
Australian officials are leading an extensive underwater search some 2,000 miles away from Réunion for the main wreckage of Flight MH 370, and the 'black boxes' [painted orange] recording flight data, also conversations and sounds in the cockpit.
Malaysian authorities investigated passenger and crew lists of MH370 last year, announcing in April 2014 that investigation had revealed nothing of interest and they had all been eliminated from the enquiry.
Sources: AFP, WSJ, CNN, CNS, BBC,JBM. FRANCE24,ChannelNewsAsia,BBC5Live & LBC
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