BALMA, France (AP) — A wing flap suspected to be from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Saturday arrived at a French military testing facility where it will be analyzed by experts.
After a 10-hour journey by road from Paris’ Orly airport, a truck carrying the roughly 8-foot (2.44-meter) component known as a flaperon arrived at the DGA TA aeronautical testing site near Toulouse, accompanied by police motorcycles and a police car.
French aviation experts will try to establish whether the wreckage that was found on the Indian Ocean island Reunion comes from the Boeing 777 which disappeared on March 8, 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
The experts, including a legal expert, will start their inquiry on Wednesday, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. On Monday, an investigating judge will meet with Malaysian authorities and representatives of the French aviation investigative agency, known as the BEA, according to a statement late Friday.
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Air safety investigators, including one from Boeing, have identified the component as a flaperon from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. The official wasn’t authorized to be publicly identified.
Flight 370 is the only missing 777 and many are convinced the flap comes from the ill-fated jet.
“In the aeronautic community there is no (doubt) on the issue of what the debris belongs to. We are all convinced that it belongs to this flight (370),” said aviation security expert Christophe Naudin on France’s BFM-TV.
He said only three 777s have crashed since 2013 and the other two were in completely different locations.
“One is in the United States, one in Ukraine, and this one in the Indian Ocean,” he said.
Under a microscope and expert eyes, the wing fragment that washed up on the beach of the volcanic island could yield clues not just to its path through the Indian Ocean, but also to what happened to the airplane.
Analysts at the French aviation laboratory hope to glean details from metal stress to see what caused the flap to break off, spot explosive or other chemical traces, and study the sea life that made its home on the wing to pinpoint where it came from.
Even if the piece is confirmed to be wreckage from Flight 370, there’s no guarantee that investigators can find the plane’s vital black box recorders or other debris. A multinational search effort has so far come up empty.
Adamson reported from Paris.