MISSING Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have “floated for a while” on the surface of the Indian Ocean before sinking largely intact, according to Malaysian media reports.

An interview with satellite communications expert Zaaim Redha Abdul Rahman by Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama highlights the limited damage to a flaperon found washed up on Reunion Island as supporting the idea that the Boeing 777-200ER with 239 people on board had a successful emergency landing.

It vanished from radar shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport early in the morning of March 8 last year.

The news claims come as Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau rejects claims search crews have found debris on the ocean’s floor that may have the missing plane.

Seeing things

ATSB Chief Commisioner Martin Dolan said images published by the Daily Mail overnight were several months old and were classified ‘Category Three’ — or highly unlikely to be associated with an aircraft debris field.

“The underwater search so far has identified more than 400 seabed features that have been classified as category three,” Mr Dolan said. “It’s all been eliminated.”

He said there were no plans to return to those sites for a “closer look” in November when conditions improved.

Only two items had been classified as category one — or likely to be associated with an aircraft debris field — and they had been ruled out after further investigation found they were part of an uncharted shipwreck.

Fugro Discovery arrived back at the search site yesterday to resume work scouring the ocean floor.

So far just over half the 120,000 square kilometre priority search zone has been scanned — or an area the size of Tasmania.

Low-energy impact … The lack of compression and distortion of the flaperon believed to have come from MH370 indicates it entered the water in a controlled manner, experts argue. Source: APSource:AP

Aircraft ‘floated for a while’

Malaysia’s national news agency cites the lack of a debris field after MH370’s disappearance and the lack of crushing to the flaperon recovered late last month are evidence the aircraft was largely intact.

“I believe that when the aircraft went out of fuel, it glided downwards and landed on the water with a soft impact … that’s why I believe the plane is still largely intact,” Zaaim Redha, who was involved in analysis of the missing airliners satellite-sourced flight data immediately after the incident in March last year.

“It (the flaperon) was only slightly damaged and was just encrusted with barnacles. Its appearance indicates that it was not violently torn off from the aircraft’s main body … it does seem that it got detached pretty nicely at its edges,” he said.