Last updated: 12:45 PM ET, Wed August 05 2015

Investigators Begin Examining Possible MH370 Debris

Impacting Travel | Malaysia Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | August 05, 2015

Investigators Begin Examining Possible MH370 Debris

Photo via Twitter

Investigators today began the task of trying to match the piece of debris found on the coast of Reunion Island last week to that of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which mysteriously disappeared without a trace 17 months ago.

The piece, a flaperon that was part of the wing, definitely came from a Boeing 777, the same kind of aircraft as MH370, which took off March 8 from Kuala Lumpur headed for Beijing. It made an abrupt U-turn an hour into the flight, lost contact with air traffic controllers, and disappeared.

Most experts believe it crashed into the Indian Ocean.

Not a single trace of the plane has been found, but a flaperon washed up on shore last week on Reunion Island, 380 miles off the coast of Madagascar and more than 2,000 miles from where search teams had been looking for the missing plane.

It is not known when investigators will make an announcement regarding their findings.

"Malaysian and French officials may be in a position to make a formal statement about the origin of the flaperon later this week," Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said in a statement. Australia has led the search efforts for MH370.

While residents, tourists and officials alike have been scouring Reunion Island for more possible debris, none has been found yet. That doesn’t mean there isn’t more.

John Page, an aircraft design expert at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told the Associated Press that the discovery of the fragment last week leads him to believe there is more debris out there.

He said that while the main body of the plane is likely to have sunk, he thinks other small, lightweight parts attached to the wings and tail may have floated free and could still be afloat.

“I’m certain other bits floated,” he said. “But whether they’ve washed up anywhere is another question. The chances of hitting an island are pretty low.”

The ideal scenario for those examining the flaperon would be to find a serial number somewhere that links the piece to MH370. Short of that, it’s possible a paint scheme could be determined to match it to a Malaysia Airlines plane.

Scientists will also study the barnacles that have attached themselves to the flaperon in an effort to determine their age and origin in the hopes it gives them clues as to where, exactly, MH370 went down.

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