Could Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have sunk without leaving any floating wreckage?

SamtheBrand
  • Could Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have sunk without leaving any floating wreckage? SamtheBrand

    With all the searching on the surface of the Indian Ocean for evidence of Flt. 370, I'm wondering if there's any conceivable scenario in which the Boeing 777 could have sunk without producing any floating wreckage.

    Is it possible for a 777 or similar model to hit water without leaving a trace of remains on the surface?

  • Yes, but only under highly unlikely circumstances. An airplane contains all sorts of materials that float, from fuel to seat cushions to the plastic cups in the galley. In order to sink without leaving any floating wreckage, all of that material would need to be trapped within the airplane while it fills with water.

    In order for this to happen, the airplane needs to land intact on the water. As any number of ditchings indicate, this isn't going to happen -- even US Airways 1549 had the rear of the fuselage tear open on landing. More often, the engines or wings will tear off, leaving oil and fuel slicks.

  • Yes, it's certainly possible. But it all depends on a lot of factors.

    • Speed of impact. Obviously, the lower the speed of impact the fewer pieces will break away.
    • time. Even if things break away and float, after a while they'll sink as they become water logged. And that may only take minutes.
    • environmental conditions. Water temperature affects the speed at which chemical spills dissipate. So do wind and currents. Wind and currents, through wave action, can also break up into tiny fragments and cause to sink any floating debris.

    So even if something were left on the surface after the impact, after a few hours most of it would be gone. After days, unless the aircraft crashed near a shore and pieces wash up, most likely there's nothing left to see unless very large pieces broke off and managed to stay afloat (which would require very calm surface conditions indeed).

  • It may possible like the US Airways Flight 1549 ditched in the Hudson River

    This was in a river with smooth water. I'm not sure if there's ever been a passenger jet successfully land intact on the sea.

    If the Malaysian flight successfully ditched like Flight 1549, then I'm not sure if the plane could float for hours. It would sink for sure if the doors were opened.

Related questions and answers
  • With all the searching on the surface of the Indian Ocean for evidence of Flt. 370, I'm wondering if there's any conceivable scenario in which the Boeing 777 could have sunk without producing any floating wreckage. Is it possible for a 777 or similar model to hit water without leaving a trace of remains on the surface?

  • Without getting into the mess of redesigning existing Flight Data Recorders, I have a simple proposal that I think would help in deep water crashes. I propose that several floating cushion sets... 370 and Air France Flight 447 would have both been greatly aided if these floaties were in those planes. What do you think? ... into the water, if the plane breaks up, then several of the cushions would float to the surface. When the cover dissolves, several folded arms open up making it much bigger exposing a orange-nylon

  • I just finished reading an interesting post where the author suggests that the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 could have 'hidden' under the cover of Singapore Airlines flight 68 to fly to a covert airstrip. I've read multiple thrillers where submarines have hidden behind the acoustic signal of large cargo vessels to mask their sound over sonar arrays, and this (at least in the book) sounds plausible. I also read another book where a bomber (flying under the identity of a commercial jet) masked a business jet to get it into an area without detection. Naturally, both examples are taken

  • in the water, the radar could pick it up. They [flight recorders] typically have a radio beacon and so for example our P3 [radar] - if they are flying within a certain range of that - will pick up that radio beacon. We have not yet picked up anything, but that's typically what those black boxes contain." I was under the (potentially incorrect) impression that flight recorders, by nature...In a recent BBC article regarding the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (MH-370), the writer refers to a US Naval officer's statement: Commander William Marks from the US Seventh

  • A comment by @AsheeshR says: The Hudson River Landing was due to a combination of piloting skill and an autopilot system that was engaged right till impact and kept the plane in a controlled descent within a safe flight envelope. It was an Airbus aircraft, so the autopilot has priority over pilot input, but how exactly did the autopilot play a role in getting them down safely? What exact procedures did Sully and the crew follow when landing? Was there anything in addition to standard ditching procedures, that might have contributed to them landing in one piece?

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  • If the Malaysian plane went as slow as possible , could it have landed intact, then sank to the bottom? Thus , leaving virtually no evidence at top of water ?

  • Why is it that black boxes don't float? From what I gather the answer is: So they will not float away from a water crash site. The ping can be heard underwater with sonar. Finding the ping, finds the site. But why not have two black boxes one that floats and one that stays with the aircraft? That way if a plane is lost at sea, if we find the black box floating, we could use the data to find the other black box and the crash site. Plus the benefits of having a redundancy are enormous.

  • projects. But I'm wondering if there are any aircraft which have this possibility and if not, why not? I'd see it as an opportunity to Boeing to have a 787 flightdeck shared with say the 777. ...With the new Boeing 787 where Boeing has provided the capability to swap engine types if the aircraft goes to a new operator quite quickly, I'm wondering if there are any interchangeable flightdecks? Say that you might have a legacy 737 for southwest, but an entirely different cockpit layout (containing the same capabilities) for a company which operates Boeing 787s as well, since

  • I know that historically pilots used to trim an aircraft to relieve continuous application of force during climb/cruise/descent, and at that trim tabs existed on control surfaces (elevator, ailerons, etc) which could be used to hold the position of the control surface without the pilot applying any force. But now, we don't usually have trim tabs, and with fly-by-wire systems forces have been...? Apart from pilot workload and fuel efficiency (I know that trimming an aircraft can produce drag), what other benefits does trim offer? Without trim tabs, how is trimming accomplished?

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