MIAMI — A debris purported to be from a large aircraft washed ashore on the French island of Réunion, sparking speculations on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The two-meter-long piece described as a flaperon -the section of the wing that controls the roll and bank of an aircraft, was found yesterday in the morning.

Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was operated by a Boeing 777-200ER when vanished without a trace en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8th, 2014 while overflying the South China Sea, approximately 40 minutes after takeoff. 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 15 nations were aboard.

Despite the efforts in the largest and most expensive search in aviation history, there has been no confirmation of any debris, resulting in a myriad of theories about its disappearance.

Boeing, manufacturer of the missing airliner, has declined to comment about the images disclosed, and directed all consults to the investigators in charge. However, they remain committed “to supporting the MH370 investigation and the search for the airplane. We continue to share our technical expertise and analysis. Our goal, along with the entire global aviation industry, continues to be not only to find the airplane, but also to determine what happened – and why,” the company said in a statement.

Malaysia Airlines assures that at the moment it would be too premature to speculate about the origins of the so-called flaperon, and confirmed to be working with relevant authorities to confirm whether the debris corresponds to MH370.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued an statement, assuring “the debris is being examined by experts to determine its origin. Malaysia is responsible for the investigation and is managing this examination with the assistance of Boeing, the BEA (French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety), the National Transportation Safety Bureau (US) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. 

In the event that the wreckage is identified as being from MH370 on La Reunion Island, it would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern Indian Ocean” the Bureau commented.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak informed that the piece will be shipped to BEA’s office in Toulouse wherein it will be assessed to confirm if corresponds to a 777. Simultaneously, a second Malaysian team is traveling to where the debris was found on Réunion.

“As soon as we have more information or any verification we will make it public. We have had many false alarms before, but for the sake of the families who have lost loved ones, and suffered such heartbreaking uncertainty, I pray that we will find out the truth so that they may have closure and peace” Razak stated.

A long way ahead

Even if authorities confirm that the flaperon corresponds to Malaysia AIrlines Flight MH370 jetliner, the resolution is far from over. A forensic examination of the piece might give clues on how the aircraft impacted the ocean, and its location may help investigators and experts to calculate sea currents, time and distances to trace back to the main wreckage site -a colossal, time-consuming and expensive task with an uncertain outcome.