More than a year after its tragic, mysterious disappearance, there's finally a possible development in the story of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. On Wednesday, a French Air Force team found what appears to be a wing part washed up on the coast of Reunion, a island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. Photos quickly followed, confirming that the wing appeared to below to a large-scale jumbo jet, like the kind that went missing in March of last year. Here are three signs that wing piece could belong to MH370.
1. It Reportedly Matches A Boeing 777, Just Like MH370
MH370 was a Boeing 777, and apparently, the consulted aviation experts all believe that the newly discovered chunk of wing matches that model. Says former pilot Xavier Tytelman:
I've been studying hundreds of photos and speaking to colleagues. And we all think it is likely that the wing is that of a Boeing 777 – the same plane as MH370.
2. Authorities In Reunion Reportedly Believe It's Been Submerged For A Long Time
Considering how big the Indian Ocean is, you can be forgiven if you're a little skeptical. But it bears mentioning that, in addition to the apparent link between the fragment and the Boeing 777 model, Tytelman also stated that local authorities believe it was underwater for a long time — he says "around a year" — before being discovered:
Police in Reunion examining the wreckage say that it looks like it's been in the water for around a year, which again would fit with MH370. We can't say for certainty, but we do think there is a chance that this is it.
That estimate would square with MH370's history, as it vanished on March 8, 2014.
3. It's A Long Way From Where The Plane Was Last Spotted
Obviously, at face value, this seems like a reason to doubt that the wing came from MH370. There's no denying just how wildly distant the debris is from where the plane was last observed — the French-controlled Reunion sits just off the coast of Madagascar, which is more than 4,000 miles from the South Vietnam region where it was last spotted.
But at the same time, this would explain the plane's utterly mysterious disappearance. Given the amount of research and effort that went into finding it, and the myriad conspiracy theories that emerged in the absence of a coherent explanation, the possibility that the plane was nowhere near where the searches were taking place does make a kind of sense.
4. The Distance Isn't Prohibitive
As noted by The Guardian, despite the fact that a 4,000-mile discrepancy seems unthinkably huge, it's actually not beyond the realm of possibility — at least, not according to the University of New South Wales' oceanic drift models. Having been gone from the public eye for a whopping 15 months, it's possible that the currents could have carried the fragment that distance in that amount of time.
5. The Wing Has A Number On It That Could Help Identify It
As the Sydney Morning Herald noted in their coverage of the wing's discovery, there's a number visible on it: BB670. While it isn't the serial number or plane number, according to Tytelman, this is still a potentially major development. If there's any kind of identifying mark on the wing, it should make it that much easier to tell whether or not it could be from MH370, and ultimately, whether or not it is. Suffice to say that we shouldn't have to wait too long to get a firmer grip on whether this is a piece of MH370.