MH370 debris confirmed: What has been found from the aircraft – and what does it tell us?

A flaperon found on Reunion was from MH370, it has been confirmed

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The Independent Online

A wing fragment which washed up on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion over a year after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared is from the missing aircraft, officials have confirmed.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told a press conference that an international team of experts have “conclusively confirmed” that the debris discovered on the island was from the missing Boeing 777.

Malaysia Airlines has also confirmed that they are aware of the conclusion made by the French agency investigating the discovery of the wing part, or flaperon.

“Family members of passengers and crew have already been informed and we extend our deepest sympathies to those affected,” the airline said.

As experts analyse the first piece of physical evidence from the missing aircraft, we recap the investigation into flight MH370, which disappeared on 8 March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak confirms the debris found on Reunion Island is from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (Reuters)

What have they found?

A flaperon appeared on Reunion last week, and was sent to France to be assessed by experts, and has now been verified as genuine.

Now, a burnt piece of luggage and a rounded piece of plastic thought to be a window will also be assessed to clarify whether they are from the aircraft.

Police on the island have said they have had to rule out dozens of other potential finds from the plane, as residents attempt to help investigators.

What does the find tell us?

Following a high-tech investigation last year into the jet’s final hours before it would have run out of fuel, experts said they believed the plane came down in the southern Indian Ocean.

The flaperon washing up on Reunion is therefore consistent with the working theory that the jet went down in the Indian Ocean.


What next?

The BEA, the French agency which investigates air crashes, as well as experts from Boeing, will travel to the town near Toulouse, southern France, to join the probe.

Investigators will now use high-powered microscopes to analyse the barnacle-covered flaperon in a bid to understand what caused the plane to go down.

Those investigating the tragedy must also now uncover why the plane deviated so far from its planned route.

The flaperon from MH370 (EPA)

It is hoped that close inspection of the wing part will indicate what kind of stress the plane was under as it made impact.

But the wing will not answer questions about why the plane disappeared or what caused it to crash.

Some experts believe it may have run out of fuel, but other analysts say the wing’s good condition points towards a controlled ocean landing, with the jet sinking largely intact.

Another answer could be that the jet fell vertically into the water, and both wings snapped off on impact.

Yet another possibility, supported by a flight simulator, is that an out-of-fuel Boeing 777 would belly-flop heavily tail-first, disintegrating on impact.

Additional reporting by AP