The Peterborough Examiner

Wing part seen as ‘major lead’ in solving mystery of Flight 370

Unclear whether it will help search crews pinpoint rest of wreckage


SAINT-ANDRE, Reunion — Malaysia’s prime minister said Thursday that a sea-crusted wing part washed up on the French island of Reunion in the western Indian Ocean will be sent for investigat­ion to the French city of Toulouse, hub of the European aviation industry.

The debris may be the first trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 since it vanished nearly a year and a half ago, and a tragic but finally solid clue to one of aviation’s most perplexing and expensive mysteries.

“We have had many false alarms before, but for the sake of the families who have lost loved ones, and suffered such heartbreak­ing uncertaint­y, I pray that we will find out the truth so that they may have closure and peace,” Najib Razak said on his personal blog.

Air safety investigat­ors have identified the component as a “flaperon” from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. Flight 370, which disappeare­d March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, is the only 777 known to be missing.

“It’s the first real evidence that there is a possibilit­y that a part of the aircraft may have been found,” said Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss, whose country is leading the search for the plane in a remote patch of ocean far off Australia’s west coast. “It’s too early to make that judgment, but clearly we are treating this as a major lead.”

If the flaperon is from Flight 370, it is unclear whether it will help search crews pinpoint the rest of the wreckage, given the complexity of Indian Ocean currents and the time that has elapsed since the plane disappeare­d.

Flight 370 had been travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, but investigat­ors believe based on satellite data that the plane turned south into the Indian Ocean after vanishing from radar. If the wing part is from the Malaysian plane, it would bolster that theory and put to rest others that it travelled north, or landed somewhere after being hijacked.

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