Confirmation that a piece of plane debris found on Reunion Island does indeed come from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will do little to solve the overarching mystery of its disappearance, according to one expert.
MH370, a Boeing 777 with more than 200 people on board, vanished without trace in March last year on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak this morning announced testing in France confirmed the piece, a flaperon from one of the wings, was from a Boeing 777. Further tests are expected to confirm it came from MH370, as there are no other missing planes of that type.
"I would like to assure all those affected by this tragedy that the government of Malaysia is committed to do everything within our means to find out the truth of what happened," Mr Najib told the media.
Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of airlineratings.com, said on the Paul Henry programme this morning aside from confirming MH370 went down in the ocean, the discovery of the flaperon doesn't bring the wold any closer to knowing what happened.
"We know that it has ended its flight in the southern Indian Ocean, and we know that at least one part has become detached from the impact on the ocean. But it's very difficult to draw any sort of conclusions from this one particular piece," he said.
"One of the problems is the thing has been in the water for at least 13, 14 months, because we now know it came ashore two months ago and was never reported. We don't have a precise time of when it hit the shore of Reunion Island. It was discovered about two months ago, but it was discovered on the beach so we don't know what date it came ashore."
The fact the flaperon became detached isn't significant, says Mr Thomas, because it's a moveable piece, not fixed hard to the wing.
"The fact that it came away is no surprise at all. I'm struggling to understand how they could tell a lot from that."
Mr Thomas says drift modelling by oceanographers and other experts predicted debris might wash up on Reunion Island, which would give search teams confidence they are looking in the right place for the body of the plane.
If they are looking in the right place, Mr Thomas expects it's only a matter of time before they find the 777, despite the growing gap between its disappearance and the present.
"If it's there, I'm sure they'll find it and they will have no problem finding it, even though some of it may have sunk a little bit into the silt at the bottom of the ocean. We're talking about a large body, a large metal body, and so I don't think there will be any problem at all."
Currently the search is focused on the southern Indian Ocean, west of Australia.3 News