PARIS — Investigators and the families of those who were aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now have what they have sought for more than a year — the first tangible trace of the vanished airplane.
There are “very strong presumptions” that the airplane part that washed ashore last week on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean came from the missing Boeing 777, an official said on Wednesday at a Paris news conference after experts inspected the object.
A few minutes before the news conference, Prime Minister Najib Razak ofMalaysia went further, declaring that the object definitely came from the plane, which disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people aboard.
A person involved in the investigation said, however, that experts from Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board who had seen the object, a piece of what is known as a flaperon, were not yet fully satisfied, and called for further analysis.
Their doubts were based on a modification to the flaperon part that did not appear to exactly match what they would expect from airline maintenance records, according to the person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
French and Malaysian officials did not share the American hesitation, not least because no other Boeing 777 is unaccounted for.
“Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Réunion Island is indeed from MH370,” Mr. Najib said in a televised statement broadcast in the early hours of Thursday in Malaysia.
At the news conference, Serge Mackowiak, the deputy Paris prosecutor, discussed what officials and experts from France, Malaysia, Australia and the United States had learned from examining the flaperon part in an aviation lab in Toulouse, France.
He said representatives from Boeing had confirmed that it came from a Boeing 777, based on its size, color, joint structure and other technical characteristics. He also said that “technical documentation” provided by Malaysia Airlines had enabled experts to establish “common technical characteristics” between the debris and Flight 370’s flaperons.
Boeing said in a statement that its technicians were assisting in the analysis of the part, but declined to comment on the results of the examination.
The person involved in the investigation said no serial or other unique number had been found, making the job of conclusively identifying the object more complicated. The person also said that so far, no burn marks or other evidence of physical damage had been found that might provide clues to the circumstances in which the plane went down.
In any case, experts have cautioned that the discovery of the object is unlikely to tell investigators enough to determine exactly what happened to the plane.

Réunion Debris Is Almost Surely From Flight 370, Officials Say

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الأربعاء، 5 أغسطس 2015


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