Asia-Pacific News

Australia called in to MH370 probe with Reuters

Australia will help France examine the aircraft wreckage found on French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss revealed on Wednesday.

In a statement, Truss said that the French judiciary had asked Australia to send an expert from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) to Tolouse to take part in the examination of a B777 'flapron' recovered on the island last Wednesday. A flapron is the moving part of a plane's wing surface.

The find has been regarded as potentially the biggest breakthrough in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, a Boeing 777 aircraft that disappeared in March last year en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 passengers and crew.

In Wednesday's statement, Truss added that modeling by Australian experts showed that material from the current MH370 search area could have been carried to Reunion by ocean currents and wind.

Reunion is roughly 2,300 miles from the broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean off Australia where search efforts have focused. If the debris is confirmed to be from MH370, experts will try to retrace its drift back to where the bulk of the plane likely sank on impact. However, they have cautioned that the discovery was unlikely to provide any more precise information about the aircraft's final resting place.

"Malaysian authorities, who are responsible for investigating the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, have determined that the aircraft component retrieved from La Réunion is a flaperon from a B777 aircraft," Truss said on Wednesday.

"Work is being undertaken by the Malaysian and French authorities to establish whether the flaperon originated from MH370. Malaysian and French officials may be in a position to make a formal statement about the origin of the flaperon later this week."