The single piece of debris investigators thought might have come from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, a piece of wing known as a "flaperon" that was discovered washed up on the remote Indian Ocean island of Reunion in late July, may not be from the missing plane after all, the team examining the debris now fears.
Because Reunion Island comes under French jurisdiction, the flaperon was sent to France for examination by a team of experts there. But about three weeks later, according to a startling report in a French media outlet on Friday, the French investigators have been unable to link the mysterious, barnacle-covered airplane part directly to the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that inexplicably vanished almost 18 months ago, thwarting search efforts ever since.
The report appeared in the Toulouse, France, newspaper La Depeche on Friday. It is in Toulouse that a team of experts have been conducting their study of the stray flaperon, to see if indeed it came from Flight MH370.
"The Toulouse experts of the Directorate General of Armaments have finished the survey of the flaperon found on Reunion," wrote the La Depeche report. "Nothing permits it to be 100 percent certified as belonging to MH370!"
A translated version of the story was published by aviation expert and author Jeff Wise on his blog.
But according to the same report, the French team has not ruled out the possibility that the part did indeed break off from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 back in March of 2014 when the flight presumably went down.
"The case cannot be considered closed," the paper said. "For now all that is certain is that the flaperon, which was transferred from the island of Reunion to Toulouse on August 5, corresponds to a moving part of a wing of the Boeing 777."
If indeed the debris does turn out to be linked to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, one expert says that it could confirm a bizarre, but increasingly widespread theory — the belief that the plane did not crash in a violent death spiral, but instead was deliberately landed on the surface of the Indian Ocean and allowed to sink, mostly intact, to the bottom nearly four miles down.
"If that [a violent crash] were the case with MH370, you could expect pieces being much smaller than the flaperon," said Jean-Paul Troadec, former president of the French crash investigation agency.
The theory that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was deliberately ditched in the ocean dates back to August of last year, when it was proposed by aviatior and author Ewan Wilson in his book Goodnight Malaysian 370: The Truth Behind The Loss Of Flight 370. As recently as last week, Malaysian investigator Zaaim Redha Abdul Rahman proposed the same idea.
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