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MH370 – First Trace?

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It has taken unusually long for the first piece of wreckage to be discovered – that is if an aircraft part found on La Réunion island can be traced back to 9M-MRO, the Boeing 777-200ER that operated Malaysia Airlines flight 370.

The discovery of what looks like a flaperon of a Boeing 777 could yield some initial clues as to what exactly happened on March 8, 2014. The piece of the wing looks relatively intact, which might give some indication about the angle of impact with the ocean and the speed at which the aircraft descended. But of course a lot more than a single piece of wreckage is needed to determine the sequence of events.

MH370 was a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing which disappeared less than 40 minutes after takeoff with 239 people on board. It was later and briefly detected on military radar but then vanished again. A search in a vast area off the Australian coast has been performed with no results.

It will likely take a few more days to confirm whether there is a MH370 link. Several other aircraft have crashed in the region – notably a South African Airways Boeing 747-200, an Ethiopian Boeing 767 and most recently a Yemenia Airbus A310.

La Réunion, around 350 miles East of Madagascar, is far from where investigators believe MH370 has most likely come down. But strong ocean currents could perceivably have carried a floating object very far from the crash site in 16 months. To trace back its route will be extremely difficult, but analysis of currents may help to narrow down the search area to the West of Australia. It does not necessarily mean the aircraft will now be found quickly, given the many variables involved.

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