Finding missing aircraft important for future of plane assembly - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Finding missing aircraft important for future of plane assembly

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The former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Mary Schiavo lives in Charleston and told News 2 in an interview that new details in the disappearance of flight MH370 might indicate a mechanical problem.

Officials say it appears the plane might have been turning around or veering off course and then dropped from radar.

"That could indicate a number of things suggesting mechanical," Schiavo said.

Officials also confirmed that two passengers listed on the flight manifest were not actually on the plane, and both had reported their passports stolen.

"Why do you need a fake passport? You're running from the law, you're running from a spouse, you don't have a passport, you're a criminal, there's lots of reasons other than being a terrorist," Schiavo said noting the last time a plane crashed with a passenger on board with a stolen passport that person was running from the law.

 "However, everybody in the United States would remember project Bojinka, which was the terrorist plot to take out twelve planes over the Pacific. They did a trial run on a Philippine airline flight and the terrorist used a fake passport so he wouldn't be discovered yet so the plot could continue to develop. So, a fake passport could point either way," Schiavo said.

Schiavo said any explosion onboard would have left wreckage scattered over a wide area, which is seemingly not the case with MH370.

 The United States Navy is headed to aid with search and rescue and help expedite the discovery of the plane to determine the cause of the crash.

"They want to do that within thirty days because there's batteries in those black boxes and those black boxes emit a pinging noise and that helps radar, sonar, divers, submersibles find them and so they want to get on that right away not just to solve the cause of the crash and help the families come to grips with what happened but also because in thirty days those batteries are going to run out," Schiavo said.

This vanished aircraft was once before involved in a crash and had the wing repaired two years ago when it hit another plane on the runway. Schiavo said analyzing the composite wing will provide insight to whether that was a factor in this crash and help aircraft manufacturers with future repairs if they can determine whether this composite is safe.

"Because we haven't had composites long enough to have aging aircraft protocol," she said. "Over ten, twenty, thirty years, what happens to a composite that's been damaged and repaired? Does water get in, does it weaken the structural integrity, does it allow degradation of the flight control services, how about wiring was there any wiring because the wing is a fuel tank? So, that to me has interest regardless of the cause."

Therefore, finding the wreckage will provide insight to the current questions and could help Boeing know whether current repair procedures withstand the needs of the aircraft long term.

Boeing is joining the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board as a technical advisor. A team is headed to the area of the search to offer assistance.

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