Plane debris tests to begin next week

  • 01/08/2015

Analysis of aircraft debris found washed up on a remote island in the Indian Ocean will begin on Wednesday, and the discovery has brought fresh hope of a potential breakthrough in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Saturday described the discovery of the wing part, found earlier this week on a beach on the island of La Reunion, as a positive sign for the hundreds of grieving families who may soon be provided with answers.

Authorities have confirmed the wreckage, discovered thousands of kilometres from where MH370 is believed to have crashed, is from a Boeing 777, the same aircraft type as the Malaysia Airlines plane.

If the wing part is confirmed as being from flight MH370, it will be the first breakthrough in the search for the plane, which vanished almost 17 months ago en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

"In a sense, this is the first positive sign that we have located part of that plane," Ms Bishop told Channel Seven on Saturday.

The families deserved answers, she said.

Malaysia's deputy transport minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said authorities were now closer to solving the mystery of MH370.

"This could be the convincing evidence that MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean," he said.

Parts of a suitcase discovered nearby will also be analysed.

Authorities are less convinced, however, that the suitcase is related to the missing aircraft, Australia's Transport Minister Warren Truss said on Friday.

Boeing said in a statement on Friday that it would send a technical team to France to study the plane debris at the request of civil aviation authorities.

"Our goal, along with the entire global aviation industry, continues to be not only to find the airplane, but also to determine what happened - and why," the US aerospace giant added.

However, authorities have warned that one small part of the plane is unlikely to completely clear up one of aviation's greatest puzzles.

Photographs show the wing component bearing the part number "657BB".

"From the part number, it is confirmed that it is from a Boeing 777 aircraft. This information is from MAS (Malaysia Airlines)," Aziz said.

Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search for the passenger jet, said the agency was increasingly confident the debris was from flight MH370.