MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Australia, which has led the search for the disappeared Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane in the Indian Ocean, is growing confident that the debris found on La Reunion Island earlier this week comes from the aircraft, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told Sky News Australia on Friday.
"The aircraft part is almost certainly a small piece of the wing of a Boeing 777, and MH370 was in fact…conducted on a Boeing 777," Truss said.
Asked about a suitcase that washed up on the shore of the French island in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, along with a wing fragment of a plane, Truss said that "it is less likely that the suitcase is related to the MH370 incident than the aircraft part that has been identified."
The wing part has "657 BB" stamped on it – the same serial number that the Boeing aircraft maintenance manual lists for one of the MH370 Boeing 777 plane’s "flaperon leading edge panels," the local newspaper said.
The wing fragment has been sent to Toulouse, France to be investigated further by French and Malaysian experts.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared from radar screens on March 8, 2014, less than an hour after takeoff. There were 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board.
Based on an analysis of aircraft performance data, experts suspect that the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
La Reunion island lies about 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) from the area considered the most likely impact zone.
The Australian government’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) has been leading the MH370 search operation. Australia, Malaysia and China have agreed to implement a joint recovery plan if the wreckage of the aircraft is found, which includes securing all the evidence necessary for a proper investigation into the accident.