Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been missing since it disappeared on March 8, 2014. The search has been ongoing, and before Wednesday, July 29, there was little hope that any part of the plane would ever been found. The section of wing that washed up on Réunion Island ignited that hope, though, and after one week, investigators have confirmed that the piece of the plane found on the island is part of MH370. Authorities compared the numbers found on the plane part to that of the missing Boeing 777, and uncovered that indeed, it is what everyone suspected.
In a Thursday news conference, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said debris from MH370 was capable of reaching Réunion Island from the assumed crash area in the Indian Ocean waters west of Australia. Warren said search efforts there would continue undeterred despite the new development. He also told reporters the number "BB670" was found on the wing piece, but also said it was neither a serial number nor a registration number. He suggested it could be a maintenance number.
This is obviously a very significant development. It's the first real evidence that it's a possibility that a part of the aircraft may have been found. It's too early to make that judgment, but clearly we're treating this as a major lead.
Hopefully, this confirmation will start the process of answering a lot of previously unanswerable questions surrounding the plane's disappearance. Now that the wing has been discovered, will other parts be found? Can we expect other parts to wash up near or on the shores of Réunion, or Madagascar, or the east coast of Africa? Knowing that part of the debris floated where it did should help authorities hone their search area and concentrate their efforts. Victims' families will get closure, and one of the world's biggest unsolved mysteries (how does a massive plane just disappear, without a trace?) is now a little less mysterious.