Debris from same type of plane as MH370

Debris that washed up in Mozambique has been tentatively identified as a part from the same type of aircraft as the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

WASHINGTON — Debris that washed up in Mozambique has been tentatively identified as a part from the same type of aircraft as the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

Photos of the debris discovered over the weekend appear to show the fixed leading edge of the right-hand tail section of a Boeing 777, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. Flight 370, which disappeared two years ago with 239 people aboard, is the only known missing 777.

People who have handled the part, called a horizontal stabilizer, say it appears to be made of fiberglass composite on the outside, with aluminum honeycombing on the inside, the official said.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is running the search for the plane in remote waters off Australia’s west coast, said the part was expected to be transported to Australia for examination.

Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai also confirmed in tweets about the discovery that it appears the debris may have come from the missing plane.

“Based on early reports, high possibility debris found in Mozambique belongs to a B777,” Liow said in a series of tweets.

“It is yet to be confirmed & verified. ↕dca–malaysia working w Australian counterparts to retrieve the debris.” He also urged “everyone to avoid undue speculation as we are not able to conclude that the debris belongs to .mh370 at this time.”

Australian officials have seen photographs of the debris and have been in communication with Blaine Gibson, the American man who found the part, said Dan O’Malley, a spokesman for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

“We’re aware of these reports that debris has been found in Mozambique,” O’Malley said. “We’re working with officials in Mozambique and Malaysia to investigate.”

Australia will work with Malaysian investigators to examine the object once it arrives in Australia, he said. The ATSB hasn’t made any determinations yet about the potential origins of the debris.

“We have to wait until we have the actual debris examined,” O’Malley said. “We’re not going to draw conclusions from the photos.”

Flight 370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. Radar data show the plane turned sharply around as it approached Vietnamese airspace, and then flew back across the Malay Peninsula until contact was lost off the coast of Thailand.

Authorities who scrutinized data exchanged between the plane’s engine and a satellite determined that the jetliner continued on a straight path across the Indian Ocean, leading them to believe that the plane flew on autopilot for hours before running out of fuel and crashing into the water.

Despite an exhaustive search of the ocean west of Australia, where the plane is believed to have crashed, the only confirmed trace of the aircraft has been a wing part known as flaperon that washed ashore last July on the French island of Reunion off the east coast of Africa — about 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometres) from the current search area.

The flaperon bore a stenciled internal marking “657 BB,” which is consistent with a flaperon from a Boeing 777.

Nothing of the passengers, their luggage or even things designed to float, such as life jackets, has been discovered despite the largest and most expensive search in aviation history.

Australia has led the multinational search effort, which also includes the Malaysian and Chinese governments.

The discovery in Mozambique is unlikely at this stage to impact the underwater search for the plane, taking place thousands of miles to the east, O’Malley said. Authorities have long predicted that any debris from the plane that isn’t on the ocean floor would eventually be carried by currents to the east coast of Africa.

With authorities unable to find the plane and its “black box” flight data and cockpit voice recorders, investigators are no closer than they were two years ago to discovering the cause of the aircraft’s disappearance. There are many theories, including that a rogue pilot deliberately caused the $250 million jet to vanish, but little hard evidence.

With the search tentatively scheduled to wrap up later this year, Flight 370 may become one of aviation’s great unsolved mysteries.

In the aftermath of the plane’s disappearance, the airline industry and aviation authorities around the world pledged to find ways to better track airliners, especially over expanses of ocean where there’s no radar coverage.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

Most Read