Number BB670 on Reunion Island debris is key to unlocking MH370 mystery

The large piece of aircraft wreckage that washed up on Reunion Island appears to come from a wing. Photo: TwitterWhat we know after debris foundBB670 key to unlocking mysteryFamilies face agonising waitTimeline to tragedySearch for MH370: full coverage

A number found on the aircraft part washed up on the shore of Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, should be the vital clue that will allow authorities to confirm  quickly whether it is part of the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The number BB670 is visible on what appears to be a wing flap.

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],” Mr Feith told Wired.

Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau who has been co-ordinating the search off the coast of Western Australia, said that the number could link the part definitively, “possibly in 24 hours” to the jetliner that disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.

Xavier Tytelman, an expert in aviation security, told Agence France-Presse that images of the debris displayed “incredible similarities between a #B777 flaperon and the debris found”, referring to a Boeing 777.

A French official with knowledge of the investigation said that the object appeared to be a wing flap, possibly from a Boeing 777, the type of aircraft used on the flight.

The official said that the object was about 9 feet (2.7 metres) long and 3 feet (one metre) wide, and that it appeared to have been in the water for a very long time.

The French aviation safety bureau, known as BEA, said in a statement on Wednesday that it “is studying the information on the airplane part found in La Reunion, in co-ordination with our Malaysian and Australian colleagues and with the judicial authorities”.

It added: “It is not possible at this hour to ascertain whether the part is from a B-777 and/or from MH370.”

The French official said that the authorities were in the process of designating a laboratory in France where the object would be taken for examination.

Referring to the number found on the object, Mr Tytelman told AFP: “This code is not a plane’s registration number, nor serial number.

“However … it’s clear that this reference would allow a quick identification. In a few days, we will have a definitive answer.

“We all think it is likely that the wing is that of a Boeing 777 – the same plane as MH370,” Mr Tytelman told the London Telegraph.

Without identifying numbers on the debris, confirmation would take much longer, Mr Dolan said.

With New York Times

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