Saturday 10 December 2016

MH370 search: Flaperon officially identified as being part of a Boeing 777 aircraft

Press Association

Published 02/08/2015 | 10:23

Johnny Begue (right), who found plane debris Wednesday on this beach in Saint-Andre, on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, walks with his friend Andre Tevane. Reuters/Zinfos974/Stringer
Johnny Begue (right), who found plane debris Wednesday on this beach in Saint-Andre, on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, walks with his friend Andre Tevane. Reuters/Zinfos974/Stringer

A piece of debris believed to be from the missing MH370 plane which was found on the French island of Reunion belongs to a "domestic ladder" and is not an aircraft part, according to a Malaysian official.

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It had been thought that the new debris was the missing MH370 plane.

However, the part which was found on the French island of Reunion belongs to a "domestic ladder" and is not an aircraft part, according to a Malaysian official.

The first piece of plane Airplane debris that washed up on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion has been identified as being from a Boeing 777, the same model as Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 which vanished early last year.

"We know the flaperon has been officially identified as being part of a Boeing 777 aircraft," Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said in a statement.

"This has been verified by French authorities together with aircraft manufacturer Boeing, U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Malaysian team comprising the Department of Civil Aviation, Malaysia Airlines, and Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370."

An Air France flight carrying the debris landed at Orly airport near Paris yesterday, and it was then transferred by road to a military-run laboratory near the southwestern city of Toulouse that specialises in analysing aviation wreckage.

French investigators are not expected to begin examining the wreckage before Wednesday afternoon and their Malaysian counterparts will also be present, the Paris prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Experts hope the barnacled 2-2.5 metres (6.5-8 feet) long wing surface known as a flaperon and a fragment of luggage also found on Reunion could yield clues as to the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished without trace in March 2014.

There were 239 passengers and crew on board. Some families of the victims are demanding further compensation from the airline.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told Reuters in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday that additional Malaysian officials were headed to Reunion to look for more debris and others would go to France.

"If the flaperon does belongs to MH370, it is actually in accordance with the drift pattern seen in the southern Indian Ocean. But we do not want to speculate. We will wait for verification from the French authorities," he said.

Discovery of the debris may finally confirm the plane crashed into the sea after veering off course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, helping to end 16 months of lingering uncertainty for relatives.

Investigators believe someone deliberately switched off MH370's transponder before diverting it thousands of miles off course. Most of the passengers were Chinese.

The debris will be analysed at a lab staffed by 600 experts that is operated by the French defence ministry near Toulouse. The luggage fragment will be sent to a police unit outside Paris that specialises in DNA tests.

If the serial number on the flaperon confirms that it is from Flight 370, then the laboratory can use sophisticated tools to try to glean more information about the causes of the crash, such as whether its shape corresponds more to a mid-air explosion or a crash into the ocean.

The defence ministry also contributed to the investigation of Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris that crashed into the southern Atlantic Ocean in June 2009, killing 228 people.

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