In a major development in one of the greatest aviation mysteries in history, it is possible that the first physical piece of evidence may have been recovered. On Wednesday, at about 9:30 A.M. local time, a group of beach cleaners on Reunion Island stumbled upon a piece of an airplane wing that could be part of missing Malaysian Flight MH370. Analysts say the flaperon, a portion of a plane’s wing, likely belongs to a Boeing 777. If it confirmed that it is part of a 777, it likely belongs to MH370.
MH370 suddenly disappeared after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 8, 2014 bound for Beijing, China. The plane had 239 people onboard. Authorities are still baffled as to why the plan suddenly turned dramatically off course over the area between Malaysia and Vietnam before losing all communication and detection with air traffic control. They also do not know where the plane eventually ended its journey.
An international team of experts used the principles of ocean currents and satellite data to eventually calculate that the plan likely went down in the southern Indian Ocean. Since the disappearance of the plane, Australia has been leading the search for the aircraft, and teams have focused their efforts painstakingly searching the ocean floor in the Indian Ocean. The search area is approximately 2,300 miles from where the debris was found Wednesday morning. Since the plane’s disappearance, Australia, Malaysia, the United States and other countries have spent tens of millions of dollars searching for the missing plane.
Although officials are cautiously optimistic that the debris is a piece of the missing plane, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak went so far as to say that the debris is “very likely from a Boeing 777.” If it is from a 777, it is very likely from MH370 because there have been very few 777 crashes, and none have occurred near the area where MH370 is suspected to have gone down. The Malaysian Transport Ministry cautioned that “until there is tangible and irrefutable evidence that the flaperon does belong to the missing aircraft, it would be premature to speculate.”
Australian officials hopes to hear by the weekend definitively whether the debris is from MH370.