8 August 2015

French Authorities Plan New Searches of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

The move follows confirmation by the Malaysian government on Wednesday that wing debris washed up on the Indian Ocean island of RĂ©union was part of the missing plane.
France is today preparing to conduct land, air and sea searches for more wreckage from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said investigators analysing the debris in France had "conclusively confirmed" that the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean after veering off course between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing with 239 passengers  and crew on board.
"I would like to assure all those affected by this tragedy that the government of Malaysia is committed to do everything within our means to find out the truth of what happened," he said.
Despite Razak's announcement, investigators have stopped short of publicly confirming the debris is from the plane, instead saying there were "very strong conjectures".

This has angered relatives of the victims who are demanding more certainty from authorities. The announcements were met with anger in China, where most of the victims were from, as relatives refused to accept the news.
"Please don't let them keep lying," shouted one man while protesting at the airline's Beijing headquarters. "I want them to reveal the truth immediately."
Another woman said she had not given up hope of finding her daughter. "I believe they are still alive – otherwise they would have found the bodies."
But Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose country is leading the deep-sea hunt for the wreckage, said the discovery was consistent with the search pattern teams have been using.
"It suggests that for the first time we may be a little bit closer to solving this baffling mystery," he told reporters.
Why is it Taking so Long for Investigators to Confirm if the Wing is from MH370?
The investigation is being led by aviation authorities in France as the debris was discovered on French territory, but Malaysian and Australian officials are also involved. The wing arrived at a military-run facility near Toulouse last weekend, but the involvement of different countries and groups has "complicated and delayed the situation somewhat".

How Will They Confirm its Origin?
Jean-Paul Troadec, the former head of France's BEA agency, which investigates aviation accidents, said the type of paint used on the wing might provide vital clues. "Every airline paints their planes in a certain way … and if the paint used is used by Malaysia Airlines and other companies, there may be more certainty," he said.
Investigators will undertake tests to try to determine where the wing came from. Mary Schiavo, an aviation analyst and former inspector general of the US Department of Transportation, says they will be conducting "everything from X-rays to sonograms". They will then take apart the fragment in search of serial and part numbers to match to the missing plane.
If a serial number cannot be easily identified, the wing will be examined with an electron microscope "that can magnify up to 10,000 times", Pierre Bascary, former director of tests at France's General Directorate for Armaments.

Bill Waldock, a professor of safety science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, predicted analysts would also look for small fractures in the surface that could reveal the plane's angle of impact. An ultrasound could show "just how violent the separation was", he told.

There have also been suggestions that the barnacles growing on the wing could provide a clue about the water conditions under which they were formed and narrow down the search area considerably.
What Happens Next?
French authorities have announced they intend to set up a new search, combing the small Indian Ocean island for further traces of the missing plane.
The search will begin with an aerial observation by a military plane this morning, the press release reports, to be joined later by helicopters, boats and foot patrols across the French-administered island.
Although French investigators have declined to state definitively the flaperon discovered last week is from the Boeing 777 which went missing in March last year, the latest announcement suggests there is sufficiently strong conviction to launch a new search.
Malaysian authorities have been less circumspect, confirming the wing part belonged to the missing aircraft and claiming more debris had been discovered – a claim the French were quick to dismiss.
The discrepancy between these accounts has caused frustration among relatives of the flight's passengers, exacerbating conspiracy theories and claims there has been a cover-up. Even if confirmed by investigators, it is unlikely to solve the mystery behind the plane's disappearance and why it veered so dramatically off course. More than a year on from the tragedy, families of the victims are demanding more definitive answers.

But experts are divided on the significance of the discovery, which Malaysia called a "major breakthrough" in the investigation.
"This confirms the plane went down somewhere in the Indian Ocean – but we pretty much knew that," aviation consultant Gideon Ewers told the Press. "It won't take us any further down the path of what happened and why."
However, Jakarta-based aviation consultant Gerry Soejatman said discovering roughly where the plane crashed was a "huge step" forward in the investigation. "This answers a lot of questions, actually," he said. "It eliminates other theories, conspiracy theories."
Meanwhile, the Australian-led search for the wreckage and the crucial black boxes continues. Authorities scouring 120,000 sq km of the Indian Ocean say they are still confident they're looking in the right place and will do so for as long as it takes to provide families with the answers they need.

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