FAA feared loss of structural integrity

PETALING JAYA - All the B777-200 aircraft - similar to the missing MH370 plane - operated by Malaysia Airlines are airworthy, said the Civil Aviation Department (DCA).


Its director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said this was based on DCA records.

MAS chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the carrier complied with all such directives but that he had to check on the MH370 aircraft.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had proposed a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Boeing 777s last September which would prevent "loss of structural integrity of the airplane".

It said the AD had been prompted by a report of cracking in the fuselage skin underneath the satellite communication (Satcom) antenna adaptor.

The FAA said it had also determined that this unsafe condition "is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design".

"We are proposing this AD to detect and correct cracking and corrosion in the fuselage skin, which could lead to rapid decompression and loss of structural integrity of the airplane," it said in a notice of proposed rule making issued last Sept 18.

Based on this AD, there has been a theory that if the fuselage section near the Satcom antenna adapter had failed, it would have disabled satellite-based communications as well as caused a slow decompression that would have rendered all occupants of the plane unconscious.

The writer of the blog mh370lost.tumblr.com suggests that the pilots of MH370 would not have realised the need to put on oxygen masks until it was too late if the decompression had been slow enough.

In addition, the blog post says that the B777 did not deploy its passenger oxygen masks until an altitude of 13,500ft by which time the passengers would have most likely lost consciousness.

"If such decompression left the aircraft intact, then the autopilot would have flown the planned route or otherwise maintained its heading/altitude until fuel exhaustion," suggested the unnamed author, adding that he or she had forwarded this theory to the US National Transportation Safety Board for consideration.

The author suggested that the aircraft might be at the floor of the East China Sea, Sea of Japan or the Pacific Ocean thousands of miles northeast from the current search and rescue zone, if it had continued along its route on autopilot.

"Basically, it could be 'anywhere', and we need to use any available radar records to help figure it out. It could have turned in any direction and continued on for hours. This is where the Vietnamese/Malaysian civilian and military radar come in."

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