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MH370 investigators headed to Reunion Island to examine wing debris

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 30, 2015
Aircraft debris washed up on the beach at Reunion Island. (French Television Outre-Mer 1ERE)
Aircraft debris washed up on the beach at Reunion Island. (French Television Outre-Mer 1ERE)

Investigators are on their way to Reunion Island off the coast of Africa to analyse a piece of aircraft debris that could be from missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370.

The piece of debris, which measures about two metres long and appears to be part of an aircraft wing, was spotted on a beach on Reunion Island on Thursday (Australian time).

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss confirmed the Australian government was aware of the discovery and said it was being examined by experts to determine its origin.

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Truss said Malaysia was responsible for the investigation, adding that Boeing, the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la Sécurité de l’Aviation Civile (BEA), the US National Transportation Safety Bureau and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) were assisting the examination.

“In the event that the wreckage is identified as being from MH 370 on La Reunion Island, it would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern Indian Ocean,” a statement from the Minister’s office released on Thursday said.

“Any new evidence will be used to further inform and refine ongoing search efforts.”

A file image of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER 9M-MRO at Sydney. (Seth Jaworski)
A file image of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER 9M-MRO at Sydney. (Seth Jaworski)

MAS said in a statement it was working with the relevant authorities to “confirm the matter”.

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“At the moment, it would be too premature for the airline to speculate the origin of the object,” MAS said on Thursday.

Malaysia Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai confirmed a delegation from his country was headed to Reunion Island to investigate the debris.

“I have sent a team to verify the wreckage,” Liow told reporters at the United Nations in New York according to the Reuters news agency.

“We hope that we can identify it as soon as possible.”

MAS flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 2014 enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. The aircraft is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean off the West Australian coast after it changed course and flew back over the Malaysian mainland, according to analysis of satellite tracking data.

The international search effort led by the ATSB has combed more than 55,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean and found no sign of the missing Boeing 777-200ER 9M-MRO. The search area was expanded earlier in 2015 to 120,000 square kilometres.

People conducting a cleanup of the beach at Reunion spotted what is believed to be part of an aircraft wing. (French Television Outre-Mer 1ERE)
People conducting a cleanup of the beach at Reunion spotted what is believed to be part of an aircraft wing. (French Television Outre-Mer 1ERE)

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8 Comments

  • Tony Redpath

    says:

    If this is a part from MH370 then given the ocean currents and predominant winds, I believe it is unlikely the plane came down off the WA coast. Reunion is several thousand klm WNW of WA

  • Dave

    says:

    I was going to write that this should finally shut up the conspiracy theorists, but then I read your post Tony.

    I’m no oceanographer but I suspect even slow moving currents can move things quite a long way over 16 months…..

  • ButFli

    says:

    @Tony Redpath

    Finding this debris on Reunion is entirely consistent with the aircraft crashing in the search zone off WA. I’m not sure which ocean currents you’re looking at, but the ones that actually exist are entirely capable of moving debris “several thousand klm WNW”. Winds are unlikely to have much effect as the debris would be below the surface.

  • Greg Stevenson

    says:

    Lets not jump to conclusions on the one piece of aerofoil that has been found. There is already some experts saying that the baggage found does not appear to be from MH370, so lets wait and see.
    I have my suspicions about the aerofoil found, based on it shape and size let alone what I have seen in the available pictures. There appears to be some sort of repair on the leading edge which would not be consistent with an aircraft like the Boeing 777.
    I could be totally wrong and lets hope I am, but even if the section is from MH370, to find the remainder of the aircraft is still like ‘looking for a needle in a hay stack’.

  • Mal

    says:

    News just in. It is from MH370. Hopefully they can determine at least something from this piece of wreckage.

  • Adrian P

    says:

    I hope someone has kept the barnacles etc to analyse if they are unique to a particular part of the ocean and whether that portion of the ocean overlaps the search area?

  • Tony Redpath

    says:

    Another thought, if the flaperon has been floating on the surface for 16 months how does it have shells all over it. They don’t live on the ocean surface!!

  • Adrian P

    says:

    That’s what I am suggesting Tony, the shells etc could give a clue to where the rest of the aircraft could be.
    They may only live at particular depths or locations, anything to help reduce the search area.

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