KUALA LUMPUR – After an anxious wait of nearly 17 months for the slightest clue to unravel the greatest aviation mystery, it is virtually confirmed that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean.
This follows the announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today that a flaperon found on the French Island of Reunion was from Flight MH370 which vanished from the radar at about midnight on March 8 last year while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew.
The question now is what happens after this.
Former MAS chief pilot Capt Datuk Nik Ahmad Huzlan Nik Hussain said the discovery of the flaperon was the first evidence that the aircraft had actually gone down in the Indian Ocean as predicted by the search team.
“It is the first physical evidence and it strengthens the given pattern of the current flow in the ocean, that it is not impossible for the flaperon to float all the way to the island,” he told Bernama today.
He said now that it had been confirmed that the flaperon came from the aircraft, the investigating team should draw up an inventory of the possible
parts that can float from the ill-fated Boeing 777.
“In case the people on the island have found other debris that could be from the aircraft, the investigating team can identify instantly whether the debris is part of the aircraft,” he added.
He said the team should also embark on exercise drift modelling to show the possible path of the debris that could float in the ocean.
“They should draw some sort of computer-generated simulation to see the possible crash sites in the Indian Ocean,” he said.
Prof Dr Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian, head of research and innovation of Universiti Kuala Lumpur, said the bigger task now was to search for more debris and that the possibility of finding more debris was high with this new development.
“The next step would certainly be a more focused search in the areas off Madagascar and the African coast as these are the possible areas where the debris would be.
“Besides, further tests and analyses on the flaperon to determine whether the aircraft crashed into the ocean at an angle or whether it exploded in mid air should be done,” he said.
Although the announcement by Najib answered many questions left unanswered for more than a year, there are more complicated challenges in the days to come which investigators will face in their search.
According to Harridon, challenges like finding the entire plane wreckage that may be submerged in the ocean and recovering the 239 bodies scattered around would be a task that needs to be diligently undertaken by the search team.
“It is going to be very tough and challenging for the search team because to find debris is a very tedious process as these objects are really small in nature,” he said.
The aircraft disappeared at a point 120 nautical miles east of Kota Kinabalu over the South China Sea and there was no indication of a distress signal from the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft that departed the KL International Airport at 12.41 am and was to have landed in Beijing at 6.30 am. – BERNAMA