Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 may have been found, with U.S. officials confirming that debris taken from the Indian Ocean is from a Boeing 777, the same model as the plane that went missing last year.
But the discovery may bring search crews no closer to finding the resting place of the plane and its 239 passengers.
A piece of airplane wing showed up this week on the French island of Reunion, which is located in the western Indian Ocean. Air safety investigators, including one working for Boeing, have confirmed that the debris comes from the edge of a 777 wing, the Associated Press reported.
Search crews are now working to investigate the debris to determine whether it came from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said a team is on the way to verify the wreckage and try to determine whether it came from the missing plane.
“Whatever wreckage found needs to be further verified before we can ever confirm that it is belonged to MH370,” he said.
It likely wouldn’t take long to determine for certain if the piece of wreckage is from a 777, and if so, it would almost certainly have come from MH370.
“If it is a part from a triple 7, we can be fairly confident it is from 370 because there just haven’t been that many triple 7 crashes and there haven’t been any in this area,” said CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo.
But even if the debris did come from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, it may not change the search plans, Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan told the Associated Press. Reunion Island is within the 46,000-square-mile search area determined to be the likely ending point of the flight.
“It doesn’t rule out our current search area if this were associated with MH370,” Dolan told the Associated Press. “It is entirely possible that something could have drifted from our current search area to that island.”
But it also may not give any new clues about where to look, experts say.
“It’s going to be hard to say with any certainty where the source of this was,” said John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. “It just confirms that the airplane is in the water and hasn’t been hijacked to some remote place and is waiting to be used for some other purpose…. We haven’t lost any 777s anywhere else.”
A team is expected to confirm within the coming days whether the wreckage found came from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
[Picture by Anthony Kwan /Getty Images]