Why Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Probably Just Washed Up On Reunion Island's Shore

It's still too early to tell for sure, but there's a good chance that the plane debris that washed up on the shore of Réunion Island on Wednesday is from a Boeing 777 aircraft, according to Boeing investigators. If confirmed, that would almost certainly prove why the debris came from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. That's because there's only one 777 missing in the world today.

Flight 370 disappeared more than a year ago near Kuala Lumpur. That's almost 4,000 miles away from where the debris was discovered on Wednesday, on the shores of the French territory just east of Madagascar. Still, given the amount of time that has passed, it's not far-fetched to think that the debris traveled that far.

If there's only one 777 missing, and Boeing's experts determine the debris is from a 777, then it's largely safe to say the wing has to be from MH730. On CNN's The Lead Wednesday, former Inspector General for the Department of Transportation Mary Schiavo put it like this:

If the part numbers that are stamped on the pieces of the planes still survive, it literally could be a phone call to Boeing or to the part indices to look up the parts number to see if it belongs to a triple-seven. If it belongs to a triple-seven, it is MH370.

In other words, long-awaited answers could come very soon, if at least by process of elimination.

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Boeing's 777 aircraft, the most widely used wide-body jet, has been used commercially since 1995. To date, the 777 has only been involved in five crashes with hull loss — the airplane equivalent of a totaled car. This number includes MH370, which disappeared in March 2014.

Wreckage from the other four crashes has already been accounted for. In 2008, British Airways Flight 38 crashed just short of the runway when trying to land at London's Heathrow Airport. In 2011, an EgyptAir 777 caught on fire while preparing to take off from the Cairo International Airport. In 2013, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed near the runway as it was trying to land at San Francisco's international airport. In 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in Ukraine after being shot down, most likely by pro-Russian forces.

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At this point, it seems very likely that the debris found on Reunion Island came from MH370. However, without confirmation from Boeing, we can't be certain. If the debris didn't come from a 777, then determining what flight it came from could be more difficult. For instance, some experts have pointed out that the photos of the wing make it look like the part is coated in white paint. A 777, however, wouldn't be coated in white paint; it would be coated with zinc chromate. If the wing isn't from MH370, it could be from one of several other crashes in the area.

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