PARIS: French investigators examining a piece of aircraft debris found on an Indian Ocean island in late July have concluded “with certainty” that the wing part came from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing 18 months ago on a flight to Beijing.
The part was found by beachcombers on Reunion Island on July 29 and was immediately suspected to be the first proof that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crashed after it veered far off course on March 8, 2014.
All 239 people on board were presumed to have died. However, discovery of the wing part, known as a flaperon, was the first physical evidence to back investigators’ theory that the aircraft crashed.
The barnacle-encrusted flaperon was flown from Reunion, a French overseas territory, to Paris last month for examination by aviation specialists.
A statement issued by the office of the Paris prosecutor, who is spearheading the probe, said investigators matched a serial number found on the wing part with maintenance records provided by Boeing.
“It is therefore possible to confirm with certainty that the flaperon found on Reunion Island on July 29 corresponds to the one from flight MH370,” the statement said.
Flight 370 was little more than an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, to Beijing when communication with air traffic control in the region ceased. Radar tracking recorded its southwesterly departure from its flight path and its passage over the Indian Ocean for several hours before all traces of the aircraft were lost.