The Australian-led search for MH370 has again been accused of looking in the wrong place for the Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 based on evidence someone was in control of the plane till the very end.
Senior air crash investigator Larry Vance told Channel 9’s 60 Minutes programme, a flaperon found on Reunion Island last year and handed over to France for analysis was the strongest clue yet the aircraft was “glided” into the ocean.
Such a scenario would place the plane much further south then the current search area – which has always been based on the 777 running out of fuel and plunging into the sea.
Although France is yet to release details of its analysis of the flaperon, Vance told 60 Minutes it appeared to him the wing part had been deployed for landing, and was dragged off by the force of the water.
“It wasn’t broken off. If it was broken off, it would be a clean break. You couldn’t even break that thing. I know from experience that it’s wide,” he said.
“If you wanted to break that off, you couldn’t do it and make it look like that. That had to be eroded away.”
Australian Transport Safety Bureau search manager Peter Foley said they had not ruled out the possibility there was someone in control at the end.
“We are actively looking for evidence to support that,” he told 60 Minutes.
“The fact is we’ve got a bit of hard data that says the aircraft was in a rapid rate of descent. “We’ve got a rate of descent that’s between 12,000 and 20,000 feet a minute.”
However Foley admitted the ATSB had seen “some analysis from the French” to suggest a possibility the flaperon was in a deployed state.
Adding weight to the theory the plane was glided into the water, is an FBI report revealing a test flight was taken on Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home simulator to the Southern Indian Ocean.
The ATSB is now hopeful a second wing part found on the coast of Tanzania in East Africa, will shed further light on how the plane hit the water in the Southern Indian Ocean
Chief Commissioner Greg Hood said they would examine whether the part was in a deployed state or retracted when it separated from the Boeing 777.
But Commissioner Hood said he remained “incredibly positive” the current search of a 120,000 square kilometre priority zone would find MH370.
“The best minds that are available have been working on this and I remain positive and I remain hopeful it will be found,” he said.
It would be Malaysia rather than Australia that delivered a final report on the mystery, Commissioner Hood said.
“I’ll be as interested to see their investigation as everyone else.”