Debris, which washed up on the shores of the small Indian Ocean island of Réunion, a French overseas department, is almost undoubtedly from a Boeing 777, various experts have said.
Plane debris washed up on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean is almost certainly part of a Boeing 777, a Malaysian official and aviation experts said, potentially providing some answers for families of those aboard last year’s vanished flight MH370.
Malaysian investigators are due in Réunion on Friday and the object, identified by numerous aviation experts as part of a wing, is then due to be sent to a French military laboratory near Toulouse for checks, French police sources said.
National carrier Malaysia Airlines was operating a Boeing 777 on the ill-fated flight, which disappeared in March last year en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in one of the most baffling mysteries in aviation history. It was carrying 239 passengers and crew.
The debris was found on Wednesday washed up on Réunion, a volcanic island of 850,000 people that is a full part of France known as an “overseas department”, located in the Indian Ocean near Africa.
It is roughly 3,700 km (2,300 miles) away from the broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean off Australia, where search efforts have focussed, but Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said currents could have carried wreckage that way.
“The location is consistent with the drift analysis provided to the Malaysian investigation team, which showed a route from the southern Indian Ocean to Africa.”
Aviation experts who have seen widely circulated pictures of the debris said it may be a moving wing surface known as a flaperon, situated close to the fuselage.
“It is almost certain that the flaperon is from a Boeing 777 aircraft. Our chief investigator here told me this,” Malaysian Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi told Reuters.
There have been four serious accidents involving 777s in the 20 years since the widebody jet came into service. Only MH370 is thought to have crashed south of the equator.
“No hypothesis can be ruled out, including that it would come from a Boeing 777,” the Réunion prefecture and the French Justice Ministry said in a joint statement.