10 Things We Know So Far About The Possible MH370 Wing Flap Found On Réunion Island

Investigations are currently carried out to the remaining debris and suitcase found on the island.

Cover image via International Business Times

Filipino authorities dismisses claims that MH370 was found on one of its islands

A flaperon belonging to MH370 was found in the Reunion island, France on 29 July

Image via The Star

Captain Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, commander of Naval Task Force 61 said that they had deployed a gunboat to investigate the claims of a man about the sightings of the wreckage believed to be that of MH370.

“We deployed a gunboat there because of the news. We interviewed the people at the Sugbay Island, the fishermen, but they have no knowledge about it. Even the people residing in the island for the longest time have no knowledge of this,” said Bacardo.

11 OCT: Malaysian police verifying possible MH370 wreckage found with human bones in Philippines

On 29 July, a flaperon was found on Reunion Island which allegedly belonged to MH370. Following thorough investigations, the French investigators confirmed that the wing flap is indeed from flight MH370.

Image via CNN

The police have reached out to its Filipino counterparts amidst a report claiming that an aircraft wreckage, with a Malaysian flag inside, was discovered in the jungles of a remote island in the Philippines.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said Sunday that police were seeking the assistance from the Filipino authorities to validate the report, which was lodged by a 46-year-old man on behalf of his relative who allegedly found the wreckage while hunting for birds at Sugbay Island in Tawi Tawi.

In confirming the report, Khalid said: "There was no photograph to support the claim so we are relying on our counterpart to check."

Khalid added that it would take one or two days before the claim could be verified.

On Saturday, the audiovisual technician reported to Sandakan police that a visiting relative from Sugbay Island had stumbled upon aircraft wreckage there in early September.

They managed to get near the wreckage where they found human bones. They also found skeletal remains in the pilot's chair with the seat belt fastened.

4 SEPT: French investigators confirm flaperon found was indeed from missing MH370

Image via CNN

The part, known as a flaperon, was found on the shore of the French-governed island on July 29 and Malaysian authorities have said paint color and maintenance-record matches proved it came from the missing Boeing (BA.N) 777 aircraft.

The French prosecutor, who had until Thursday's statement been more cautious on its provenance, said a technician from Airbus Defense and Space (ADS-SAU) in Spain, which had made the part for Boeing, had formally identified one of three numbers found on the flaperon as being the serial number of the MH370 Boeing 777.

"It is therefore possible to confirm with certainty that the flaperon found on Reunion island on July 29, 2015 corresponds to the one from flight MH370," the prosecutor said in a statement.

1 Sept: Boeing parts maker cannot confirm that the discovered flaperon is from flight MH370

Now comes word that a Spanish company has told French investigators that it cannot tell with certainty from consulting its records whether the flaperon found on Reunion Island came from MH370, a French source close to the investigation told CNN.

The flaperon is from a Boeing 777 -- and MH370 was a Boeing 777, the only one in the world that's unaccounted for -- but the company can't say with absolute certainty that the flaperon found on Reunion Island comes from the missing plane, the source said.

The Spanish company manufactured part of the flaperon. Investigators had hoped to match a number found on the debris from Reunion Island with records from the Spanish company -- to confirm that the debris did, in fact, come from MH370 -- but that proved impossible.

The debris reportedly carried a code, reading BB670, which should help investigators quickly conclude whether there is a possible link.

A French aviation specialist, Xavier Tytelman, who was sent the photos by a contact on Réunion, has highlighted the similarity of the debris to the flaperon on a 777, but other experts have expressed doubt whether the part is large enough to have come from a wide-bodied passenger airliner.

18 AUG: France calls off search for MH370 on Reunion Island

French maritime gendarmes look at a map indicating measures being undertaken in the search for wreckage from the missing MH370 plane at the marina of Saint-Marie on the French island of La Reunion on August 14, 2015

Image via Yahoo

France said it was calling off the hunt for wreckage from missing flight MH370 after 10 days of air and sea searches off its Indian Ocean territory of Reunion yielded no results. The island’s top authority however said its search teams would maintain an attitude of “vigilance”.

The finding of a wing part of the Boeing 777 raised hopes of finally solving the mystery of what happened to the plane, prompting investigators to search a maritime surface of 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 square miles) and scour the island's eastern coastline.

But the searches "have not led to the identification of anything that could have a link with a plane," the French state's representative on the island, Dominique Sorain, said in a statement.

15 AUG: Search for MH370 fragments on Reunion island ends on Monday

A French maritime gendarmerie patrol boat taking part in the search missing MH370 on the French island of La Reunion.

Image via NDTV

Active air and sea searches for fragments of doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 off Reunion island will stop on Monday after just over a week, the local authorities said.

Local official Dominique Sorain said that if no objects were found by next Monday “we will move to a phase of heightened surveillance”.

“No object has been found in the sea that could belong to an airplane,” Sorain told reporters yesterday, adding however that “a certain amount of debris” had been found on land.

This has been handed over to investigators but there is nothing the size of the Boeing 777 wing part found on Reunion last month that Malaysian authorities had said came from MH370.

The searches, which began on Aug 8, have covered nearly 10,000 sq km of ocean, said Sorain, adding that police had spent 200 hours searching for the debris.

The tiny Indian Ocean island of Reunion has been in the global media spotlight since the large wing part called a flaperon was disco­vered on its shores last month.

On August 5, Malaysia's prime minister said experts had “conclusively confirmed” that the debris came from the doomed flight, which disappeared mysteriously 17 months ago.

However, French investigators were more cautious, saying only there was a “very high probability” that the flaperon came from plane, sparking anger from relatives over the difference in language.

Meanwhile, in KUALA LUMPUR, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the Malaysian investigative team had verified that debris found in Maldives was not from Flight MH370.

“They are not even plane mate­rial,” he told reporters after a seminar on Malaysian Chinese cultural development at Wisma MCA yesterday.

Last week, Liow revealed that Maldives, Madagascar and Mauri­tius, nations surrounding the French Reunion Island where the MH370 flaperon was found, had been requested to assist in the search for more debris.

12 AUG: Australia confirms flaperon found is from MH370

Image via Newstalk

The Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) has confirmed that a part of the aircraft known as a flaperon found in Reunion Island is from the vanished Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

"Subsequent examination has indicated that in all probability, the wreckage, a wing part known as a flaperon, was from MH370," said JACC in a statement today.

6 AUG: Transport Minister: Wing flap is from MH370 because it matches MAS' maintenance records

Image via Reuters

"This conclusion was reached as the technical details of the flaperon matched MAS (Malaysia Airlines) records," Transport Minister Dato' Sri Liow Tiong Lai told reporters during a press conference in Paris earlier today.

He also said the paint colour on the flaperon matches Malaysia Airline's records.

Asked about why only Malaysia has confirmed the Reunion island find - sparking confusion and anger from relatives of those on board - he said he understood why the French team had been more hesitant.

He said: "We respect their decision to continue with their verification. They have more verification processes to make, the paint, the sealant and so on."

Liow also said that Malaysian investigators have picked up more plane debris on Réunion Island, such as aircraft seat cushions and window panes

"They are little parts, but the debris cannot be verified if it belongs to MH370. It has to be verified by the French authorities," he said.

Meanwhile, family members and relatives of those onboard the missing flight are expressing their disbelief and frustration over conflicting statements from foreign officials as well as MAS' inaction:

PM Najib Razak confirms that the plane debris is from Flight MH370

Image via The Star

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak confirmed that the plane debris discovered on French island, Reunion, belong to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared en route to Beijing 16 months ago.

On 8 March 2014, flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared. The days, weeks and months that followed have...

Posted by Najib Razak on Wednesday, 5 August 2015

5 AUG: Réunion Island holidayer thinks he found a "plane window" from missing MH370

The latest find by potentially opportunistic beachcombers is a foot-long moulded plastic fitting which Bruno, who only gave his first name, found while jogging along a path by a St-Denis beach on Tuesday.

Bruno, wearing a yellow top, says he found the plastic object while jogging along a St Denis beach.

Image via Colin Cosier / Sydney Morning Herald

Bruno, who said he is holidaying on the island from France, is thought to be the same man who found an object on Sunday which he hoped could be traced back to the Boeing 777. But Malaysian authorities dispelled the rumour that the object was a plane door, and said it was more likely a piece from a household ladder.

However, a policewoman thinks that the plastic object probably came from a sewing machine

"It might resemble the back of a plane window or rather the part where the masks fall but right now I can't tell you anything.

"It makes me smile a little because it might as well be from a sewing machine," she told journalists gathered on the beach.

3 AUG: Metallic debris is not a plane door, says Malaysian official

Image via AFP

“I read all over media it (the new debris) was part of a door," Malaysian Director General of Civil Aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told AFP and other media outlets. "But I checked with the Civil Aviation Authority, and people on the ground in Reunion, and it was just a domestic ladder.”

Internet sleuths on Chinese social media site Weibo found that when they searched the two Chinese characters, "xingyi", together with the word kettle, the resulting images spat out by search engines were remarkably similar to the debris.

A source close to the investigation in Paris said “no object or debris likely to come from a plane” had been placed into evidence on Sunday.

On the island police had also collected Sunday a mangled piece of metal inscribed with two Chinese characters and attached to what appears to be a leather-covered handle. Chinese internet users suggested it may be a kettle.

In fact, French authorities are being increasingly swamped by random flotsam by locals who have been combing the beaches on Réunion Island, hoping to find more washed-up debris

Locals on La Reunion island have been combing the shores since the wing part was found last Wednesday, handing over bits of what they believe to be wreckage to police.

In Saint-Andre, the town where the wing flap was found, a National Police officer speaking on condition of anonymity feared his police station would be "submerged by a mountain of junk".

"People will bring in any old shoe they find on the beach," he sighed, duty bound to log all items handed in.

Some locals also claimed to have come across several plane-related objects - such as a suitcase and a plane seat - up to 3 months ago. However, beachcomber Nicolas Ferrier did not realise the significance of his discoveries, all of which has been burnt as "rubbish".

Nicolas Ferrier says he came across the blue plane seat three months ago, but thought nothing of it at the time. It seemed to him like just another piece of rubbish – a bus seat, perhaps, or a hang glider’s chair.

“I found a couple of suitcases too, around the same time, full of things,” he said, almost in passing.

“I burnt them,” he said, pointing to the pile of ashes lying on the boulders. “That’s my job. I collect rubbish, and burn it. I could have found many things that belonged to the plane, and burnt them, without realising.”

His story is backed up by that of another local woman, named only as Isabelle, who spotted the same object while walking on the beach in May, accompanied by her 10-year-old son.

"It was the beginning of the holidays - around May 10," she told local news website "I was walking with my son, Krishna. Then from a rock on which we were standing, he saw an object and shouted: 'Mum, that looks like the wing of a plane!'"

Krishna then jumped on what looked like a suitcase. He managed to prise it open, and then spotted another suitcase buried in the black sand. But the waves were gathering height and so Isabelle ordered her son off the beach.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai has called for help from Réunion's neighbouring territories in widening the search for more possible plane debris

Liow said he was appealing to authorities in territories near Réunion “to conduct more substantive analysis should there be more debris coming on to land, providing us more clues to the missing aircraft”.

He added: “I urge all parties to allow this crucial investigation process to take its course. I reiterate this is for the sake of the next of kin of the loved ones of MH370 who would be anxiously awaiting news and have suffered much over this time. We will make an announcement once the verification process has been completed.

2 AUG: Plane door found washed up on Réunion Island

Image via Mirror

A plane door has been found washed up on Reunion Island, Sky News has reported on Sunday.

According to Sky News' David Bowden, the object was discovered in a different location to the flaperon, which is currently undergoing tests in France to find out if it is from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

It is not known if it is from the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight or if it is from a Boeing 777. It comes as the wing part that was found earlier on Reunion arrived at a French laboratory for analysis.

The debris, which was first flown to Paris, was driven to a military base near Toulouse, which specialises in analysing aviation wreckage.

Flight MH370 with 239 people on board disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 last year. It is believed to have ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

31 JULY, 7.00PM: Deputy Transport Minister confirms number on plane debris is from Boeing 777

"Yes, MAS (Malaysia Airlines) told me that the parts number of that flaperon is a Boeing 777, but it doesn't mean that it belongs to MH370. It confirms that the flaperon belongs to a (Boeing) 777," deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said.

"I believe that we are moving close to solving the mystery of MH370. This could be the convincing evidence that MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean," Abdul Aziz told AFP.

31 JULY, 5.00PM: Chinese water bottle and Indonesian cleaning product washed ashore on Réunion Island

The bottle and canister were found after a local beachcomber discovered a mangled suitcase shell on Saint-Andre, the same place where the wing flap was found.

Most of those on board the doomed plane were Chinese, adding further weight to speculation the wing flap found on Wednesday belongs to the missing Malaysian Airlines flight.

However, images showed the bottles had degraded very little for items which would have been at sea for nearly 18 months, suggesting they may not be linked to the Boeing 777 aircraft.

30 JULY, 6.00PM: PM Najib releases official statement on possible MH370 plane debris find on Réunion Island

Read the entire statement here:

Malaysia has received news from French authorities about airline debris washed up on Reunion, the French island in the...

Posted by Najib Razak on Thursday, 30 July 2015

30 JULY, 5.30PM: Damaged suitcase reportedly found in the same area plane debris was discovered

Julien Delarue, a journalist with Journal de L’île de la Réunion, tweeted the photo of a man holding what appears to be a damaged suitcase. Another photo of the suitcase was also tweeted by another journalist Antoine Forestier.

The report included photographs of a local man holding a badly damaged object that appeared to be a "suitcase on wheels". French language website has reported that a gardener found the bag near where the debris was discovered.

The photographs show the object has two rusted zippers, netting, and frayed cloth that resembles the lining seen on standard items of luggage.
Image via The Rakyat Post

30 JULY, 1.30PM: On Wednesday morning (29 July), a 2-metre (6ft) long piece of plane debris was found on a Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean, raising speculation that the piece may have come from the missing MH370. Here's what we know so far:

1. The piece was found on Réunion Island, a French department off the east coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, by people cleaning up a beach. The island lies about 6,000km to the west of the search area.

Image via CNN

The Australian-led search teams have been focusing on a 60,000 sq km (23,000 sq mile) area off the coast of Western Australia, where the plane is believed to have crashed.

Reunion lies off the coast of Madagascar - some 6,000 km (3,730 miles) to the west of the search area. The island is far from the search area.

Antoine Forestier, a journalist on the island where the debris was found, said people who were on shore gardening saw the plane part drifting in the ocean.

2. The piece resembles the wing flap of an aircraft, more specifically a 'flaperon', the part of the wing that controls the roll and bank of an aircraft. A code - BB670 - is also visible on the aircraft part, which could be a vital clue in determining whether it's from MH370 or not.

A flaperon is used to both alter the lift characteristics of a wing and control the roll of an aircraft.

Former US National Transport Safety Bureau investigator Greg Feith said every manufacturer puts a data tag on every part that goes on an aircraft, apart from things such as screws. It could be a part number, serial number, bar code or other information.

"If that data plate is there, it's relatively easy [to match it with the type of plane it's from]," Feith said.

"The code is not that of a plane number plate, nor that or a serial number on machinery," French aviation specialist Xavier Tytelman wrote in a blog post.

"But if the flaperon does indeed belong to MH370, it's clear that the reference will be swiftly identified. In a few days we will have a definitive answer."

3. Police examining the wreckage say that the piece looks like it had been in the water for about a year, approximately the same period of time MH370 has been missing

Seashells growing on the wreckage indicate it has been in the water for some time.

Image via Reuters

CNN safety analyst David Soucie said that the barnacles on the part are consistent with the "parasitic activity" that would take place from being underwater so long.

4. France's BEA air crash investigation agency and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) say that it is still too early to draw conclusions about the wreckage's connection to MH370

"The part has not yet been identified and it is not possible at this hour to ascertain whether the part is from a B777 and/or from MH370," a BEA spokesman said in an email on Wednesday.

“With regards to the reports of the discovery of an aircraft flaperon at Reunion Island, Malaysia Airlines is working with the relevant authorities to confirm the matter. At the moment, it would be too premature for the airline to speculate the origin of the flaperon,” MAS said in a statement today.

5. Malaysia has sent an investigative team to verify whether the plane wreckage originated from MH370

"Whatever wreckage found needs to be further verified before we can further confirm whether it belongs to MH370," Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters in New York.

The team includes experts from Malaysia’s department of civil aviation and Malaysia Airlines, who would be joined by representatives from Boeing, maker of the 777-200 aircraft.

"We expect to complete the verification in two days," said deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi.

"I have sent a team to verify the wreckage. We hope that it can identify (the wreckage) as soon as possible," he added.

6. An unnamed US official said that air safety investigators have a "high degree of confidence" that the part is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the MH370

The official claims that investigators – including a Boeing air safety investigator – have identified the component as a flaperon, part of the trailing edge of a 777 wing.

7. French aviation expert Xavier Tytelman also highlighted the " incredible similarities" of the found debris to the flaperon of a Boeing 777 in the following graphic

Xavier Tytelman, a former military pilot who now specialises in aviation security, was contacted on Wednesday morning by a man living on the island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean. The man sent Mr Tytelman a series of photos showing wreckage of a plane, which the Frenchman said could possibly be the missing jet.

"I've been studying hundreds of photos and speaking to colleagues, and we all think it is likely that the wing is that of a Boeing 777 – the same plane as MH370," Mr Tytelman told The Telegraph. "

8. Australia said that the location the debris was found is consistent with analysis and drift modelling that the ill-fated flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean

"In the event that the wreckage is identified as being from MH 370 on La Reunion Island, it would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern Indian Ocean," said Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) in a statement Thursday.

While searches for debris on the Australian coastline have proved fruitless, online modelling from the University of New South Wales suggests oceanic currents could in 15 months carry wreckage from the MH370 search zone as far as Réunion, off the eastern coast of Africa.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan said surface currents, wind direction and how high an object was floating in the water might all play a role in regards to how likely it was that any debris would move in a westerly direction.

9. However, there is a possibility that the piece originated from either one of two planes crashes that occurred near the island in 2006 and 2009

Investigators will use flight tracks to try and identify where the piece originated. It is thought that they may look at whether the piece belonged to the crash of a twin-engine plane in May 4, 2006 close to La Reunion island, or even a piece of a Yemenia flight A310, which crashed off the coast of the Comoros in June 2009.

10. There are also warnings of a possible hoax, in which UK-based air accident investigator David Gleave pointed out that similar parts are made available from aircraft which have been scrapped for spares

Greave also queried the colour of the wing fragment, which would usually be grey rather than white, although he said sea salt deposits could be responsible.

This is a developing story. Come back for more.

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