Kuala Lumpur : Malaysia said a piece of aircraft wreckage found in the Indian Ocean is “almost certainly” from a Boeing 777, raising hopes of solving the mystery of flight MH370 that disappeared with 239 people on board more than a year ago.
“The flaperon (found on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean) is similar to that on a Boeing 777 aircraft. It’s almost certain,” said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi. Abdul Aziz said he was informed about this by MH370 chief investigator Datuk Kok Soo Chon, the Star online reported.
The ill-fated Malaysia Airlines jet was carrying 239 crew and passengers, including five Indians, when it disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 last year. The search operation has found no verified sign of the plane.
“We have contacted the Office of Investigations and Analysis (BEA), which is the French investigation body for accidents in civil aviation, on this find.
“We came to an agreement that they will bring the flaperon to Paris, so our team will work together with them in making (the) verifications in Paris,” Abdul Aziz was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.
A flaperon is a part of the wing used to manage the lift and control the roll of an aircraft. He said it was too early to draw conclusions until there was solid proof that the debris belonged to the missing MH370. Several news reports said serial numbers were spotted on the flaperon.
A close-up image taken by Réunion news site Clicanoore showed the number 657BB. A Boeing 777 aircraft maintenance manual available online showed that the number was linked to a part called the “Flaperon leading edge panel” on the left wing of the plane. However, other news reports cited BB670 as the number appearing on the flaperon. MAS or Boeing were not able to confirm this, the Star online said.
Debris to arrive in France today: The piece of wing will arrive in mainland France early Saturday for investigation, airport sources said. The two-metre-long flaperon, which has raised hopes of solving the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, will arrive at Paris Orly airport at 06:20am local time, the sources said. It will then be transported to the southern city of Toulouse for investigators to pore over in the hope of proving the wreckage came from the doomed MH370.
‘Wreckage discovery shouldn’t disrupt search’
Families of Chinese passengers on board MH370 in Beijing are concerned the discovery of debris possibly belonging to the missing Malaysian aircraft may disrupt the international search operation.
In a statement issued, a group of family members urged all parties committed to the search to keep up their efforts while the origin of a plane part washed up on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion is determined.
They also called for Malaysia to reopen a help center for Chinese victims’ families that was closed on May 7, and for a third party to supervise the investigation into the plane’s disappearance, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported, according to PTI.
Nearly two-thirds of those on board the aircraft were Chinese. Many protests have been held over the lack of information.
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‘Debris Alone May Not Solve Mystery’
Australia cautioned that even if the piece is from MH370, the task of finding the plane remains enormous. “Reverse modelling of ocean currents to determine the origins of an aircraft wing believed to be from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is “almost impossible”,” Transport Minister Warren Truss said. While the wreckage found on Reunion Island would not help pinpoint the resting place of the Boeing 777, Truss said it would be a major lead. “After 16 months, the vagaries of the currents [make] reverse modelling almost impossible. So I don’t think it contributes a great deal as far as our knowledge of where the aircraft is located at the present time,” he said. “However, the fact that wreckage is in Reunion Island … is consistent with some of the modelling we have done in relation with current movements.” Truss said any confirmation that the wreckage was from MH370 would also eliminate some of the wilder theories about its fate.