Officials on Friday are expressing their confidence that the recently recovered piece of wreckage found on Reunion Island is part of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Authorities are “highly confident” that the object found Wednesday by people cleaning a beach on the French island of Reunion is from a Boeing 777. Head of the Australian agency leading the underwater search, Martin Dolan told CNN that he is increasingly confident but not certain that the debris is from MH370.
Investigators still need to make a definitive judgment on whether the wreckage is from the Malaysian flight that disappeared 17 months ago with 239 people aboard. Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister chimed in on Friday saying the part certainly belongs to a Boeing 777. He did not draw any direct connection between the wing component and the missing jetliner.
If it is confirmed, the piece of wreckage would be the first bit of physical evidence recovered from MH370. It could help resolve some questions about the deeply puzzling fate of the aircraft but is likely to leave many others still unanswered. Boeing investigators are confident that the wreckage discovered on Reunion is from a 777 aircraft. Boeing is basing their opinion on photos that have been studied and a number that corresponds to a 777 component. The component number is not the same as a part number, which is usually a much longer number.
The part discovered was a right wing flaperon, which helps the pilot control the aircraft. It is lightweight and has sealed chambers which makes it buoyant. Paris’ prosecutor’s office confirmed that the debris will be transported to France late Friday evening. The piece is expected to arrive in Paris on Saturday and will be sent to Toulouse, where investigators will analyze it. It remains unclear when the identification process will be completed and the results announced.
Authorities have so far been unable to establish why Flight 370 flew sharply off its route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing and disappeared on March 8, 2014. A preliminary assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies, produced in the wake of the MH370 disaster, suggested it was likely someone in the cockpit deliberately caused the aircraft’s movements before the Malaysian airliner disappeared. The airliner’s crew has been the focus of attention since the mysterious disappearance, but no proof has emerged indicating they intended to destroy the plane. Investigators need to find Flight 370’s flight recorders to have any hope of gleaning a better understanding of what happened on board the plane all those months ago.