Cockpit panel in middle of cockpit has no indications of shrapnel damage

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The instrument panel between the captain seat and first officer seat does not show any damage caused by shrapnel.

This can help to locate where the missile exploded

Cockpit-panel between chairs-edit Delta_N701DN01RSK

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9 Comments on Cockpit panel in middle of cockpit has no indications of shrapnel damage

  1. Some other parts of the centre panel area that are without any noticable shrapnel damage can also be seen in other photos.

    First of all, as a reference, here is how those controls normally look in a 777 cockpit:

    In this crash site photo, you can see the surface around the slots for the two big levers and the narrow one on the top of the centre panel (here it’s rotated about 90 deg clockwise compared to the normal cockpit view – direction of window is to the right):

    The same area can be seen if you zoom in on this photo to about a third of the width from the right and a quarter of the height from the bottom:

    Below those slots in the photo (or to their right to someone looking at them in a cockpit) is the ‘Flap’ lever and the narrow strip beside it with ’25’ printed on it.

    Above (or normally to the left of) those slots is the area for a small display and another lever.

    To the left (or normally below) is a panel for four buttons, that has been flipped over. Those buttons (red and black) can be seen in another photo, apparently taken months later:

    Those areas can also be seen in another picture, taken from a different angle, which also shows a screen and keyboard and an area below them for a second smaller display. Those are normally located on the top left of the centre control panel:

  2. Sorry, the second link above (comment currently awaiting moderation) should be

  3. Any shrapnel coming from the left side would have to pass through the aircraft’s skin and the Captain’s body before hitting that panel. Combined with the oblique angle the lack of impact holes is not surprising.

  4. Charles Wood // January 2, 2016 at 3:24 am // Reply

    The left hand seat is usually called the pilot-in-charge seat. It is often occupied by the captain, but in cruise it is often occupied by a relieving pilot and the captain may end even up in the right-hand seat during some phases of flight.

    Is there any indication who occupied which seats at time of upset? And in which bodies / seats any shrapnel was found?

    • DSB selected high energy (warhead) objects. They found 72 high energy objects or parts of them in the cockpit and in the bodies of the crew. They were selected on same size, mass and shape.

      Persons with shrapnel in cockpit:

      Captain Team A: hundreds of metal fragments found.
      First officer Team A: 120 mostly metal fragments.
      Purser: > 100 metal objects.

      Within this group (72) they found 15 high energy objects in the bodies of the crew. Further they found one object in a passenger and 56 in the cockpit wreckage: 15+1+56=72.

      The origin and the elemental composition of these 72 selected cockpit fragments, together with 21 other reference (probably cockpit) fragments (e.g. aeroplane metal structure, cockpit glass) was examined by the NFI (Dutch Forensic Institute) using a scanning electron microscope and energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) system. Further examinations were conducted on cross-sections on fragments using a Focused Ion Beam (FIB).

      As said, 15 high energy ferrous objects or parts of them were found in the cockpit crew: the captain, the first officer and the purser. And it seems the body of the captain contained only one bowtie element, the other was found in the cockpit wreckage.

      But what is the total number of bowtie elements found on the whole crash site? Do we have statistics? Let’s refer to the appendix:

      • 6.11
        Bowtie fragments
        [In the wreckage of flight MH17 several non-aircraft related, foreign fragments were found that are assessed to be the high-energy objects, or parts of the high-energy objects, that penetrated the aircraft from the outside. A number of these fragments found in the cockpit area have a distinct butterfly or bowtie shape, as the one seen in Figure 46. These fragments are recognized as one of the three types of preformed fragments used in the 9N314M warhead of the 9M38 and 9M38M1 missiles. Figure 47 shows these bowtie fragments in an inert 9N314M warhead. Accounting for deformation and abrasion due to explosion and impact, the bowtie fragments found in the wreckage of flight MH17 match the 9N314M warhead bowtie preformed fragments in shape, size and weight. ]

        Used techniques are interesting but will not prove a causal relation between 9N314M and MH17, since the crash site and the bodies have been unattended for a long period of time and techniques only were used qualitatively (naked eye inspection). Hence for causal relations DSB comes with zirconium in the bowties from the windows of the cockpit.

        The origin and the elemental composition of the 72 selected fragments were determined only qualitatively. It was found 43 of the 72 examined fragments consisted of unalloyed steel (rusty = warhead); hence, 29 were not from a warhead (stainless steel and one otherwise). That ‘otherwise’ fragment was non-metallic (coal-slag).

        Only 4 (FOUR) of these 43 ‘had distinctive shapes: cubic and in the form of a bow tie’. As said, they were found in the cockpit. Hence, nowhere else in the wreckage bowties were found. I mean, we have no information. So, only two bowties have been found to support 9N314M. One in the body of the captain of team A and one in the cockpit wreckage.

        And in 20 rusty, out of the 43 rusty, out of the 72 selected objects, fragments of unalloyed steel, aluminum and/or GLASS LIKE DEPOSITS were present. They have been inspected by the Focused Ion Beam (FIB). On 14 of these fragments, the glass deposit consisted of sodium, aluminum, silicon, oxygen and ZIRCONIUM.

        Hence on 14 rusty, out of 20 rusty, out of 43 rusty, out of 72 selected objects THEY FOUND ZIRCONIUM. BUT… POSSIBLY NOT ON THE BOWTIES:

        ‘The chemical composition of 20 selected fragments which had either a very distinctive shape (including the two bow-tie shaped pre-formed fragments) or a layer of deposits OR BOTH was determined. This was determined by means of laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.’

        This is the Dutch text:

        ‘Van 20 geselecteerde fragmenten met OFWEL een zeer uitgesproken vorm (waaronder de twee fragmenten in de vorm van een vlinderdas) OFWEL [[EN/OF; BD]] een laagje afzettingen werd de chemische samenstelling vastgesteld.’

        Is it ‘and’, is it ‘or’ or is it ‘and/or’?

        We don’t know if the bowtie had a layer of deposits. If not, we don’t know how it came into the body of the captain. May be no zirconium was found on the two bowties. Maybe they did not come through the window but through the skin of the cockpit. Maybe they were shot into the body of the captain of team A by criminals. We have no information from this research.

        Now earlier was said 15 high energy objects were found in the crew of the cockpit. We also know 14 of the 20 had zirconium. So 6 out of 15 high energy objects, found in the crew possibly had no zirconium. One of them might be the bowtie found in the captain’s body.

        So it turned out zirconium was found in 14 out of 72 pieces of possible warhead shrapnel. Hence and to be fair, if zirconium has been found on the bowtie in the body of the captain, it might be an important clue. But this zirconium has been demonstrated only qualitatively and it has not been cross checked by independent institutes. Hence this will not be enough to convince the judges. At most there could be a correlation between 9N314M and MH17; causality is not proven.

        Now they found the shrunken experimental group (20) and the control group (21) (probably cockpit wreckage) had the same kind of aluminum, but this was not checked scientifically but only with the naked eye. Here and there they took at will somewhat material. But maybe they first must prove significant differences are to be expected between several kinds of aluminum of planes, using their Focused Ion Beam (FIB), for shrapnel could be transported into the wreckage otherwise.

        Next it seems they SOMEHOW divided the 20 sample elements (n=20) into two groups of fragments. This is ABACADABRA in a scientific report.

        They apparently took m=8 kind of independent variables as metal dimensions. A dependent dichotomous variable seems to indicate the difference or similarity between groups. That dependent variable could be the principal component on which groups can differ or agree. It looks like multiple regression or discriminant analysis but then not optimized because of PCA.

        A number of techniques have been developed enhancing differences or similarities between groups, but sample size always influences significance in the first place.

        • Denis Cashcov // January 4, 2016 at 4:18 am // Reply

          “A number of these fragments found in the cockpit area have a distinct butterfly or bowtie shape”…wnen they say “a number” they mean one or two right?

  5. The reason for the lack of shrapnel damage in the centre instrument panel was most likely that it was shielded by the top panel. As discussed in the comments on “Parts of MH17 cockpit found in December 2015”, the outline of that top surface looks like this:

    To strike the centre panel, fragments would have to penetrate not just the windscreen but also the top and bottom of the casing of those instruments (for example, the EFIS) as well as the large panel underneath them (see the second photo in that article).

    There were several holes further away from the detonation in places that were not shielded in that way. There were a couple to the left in the back rest of the co-pilot’s seat, and apparently in the co-pilot himself. There were also a number of holes in the observer seat situated in the centre at the back of the flight deck. There were also some in the floor at the back.

    Knowing the boundary between the area struck by fragments and the undamaged area would help to narrow down the possible locations of the detonation. However, that would require an accurate model of the cockpit.

  6. We might get a better picture of the damage to various parts of the cockpit if we had images that were taken from above the cockpit crash site. Has anyone seen any high resolution photos taken from a drone or from a camera attached to a pole, or even from a smartphone on a selfie stick?

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