Maputo — The Mozambican civil aviation authorities have not confirmed that the piece of aircraft wreckage washed ashore last week is from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared in March 2014 with 230 people on board.
The piece of debris, which appears to be from a tail plane, was found on the Paluma sandbank, on Bazaruto island, off the coast of the southern province of Inhambane on 27 February. An American tourist on holiday on the island found the item and took it to the Mozambican authorities.
The chairperson of the regulatory body, the Mozambique Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), Joao de Abreu, has serious doubts that the wreckage can possible come from the missing Malaysian Boeing 777. He told the independent television station STV that the object looked too clean to have been in the ocean for the past two years.
On the other hand “no aircraft which has overflown Mozambican airspace has reported losing a panel of this nature”, he said.
Nonetheless he thought that any statement that the debris did come from MH370 was “premature, dangerous and speculative”.
First the type of plane from which the wreckage came had to be identified, and only laboratory work could confirm this, Abreu said.
“We are open to anyone who wants to collaborate to find out what type of plane this belongs to”, said Abreu, “We have already had two contacts. One was from the Australian accident investigation authority, and on Thursday morning I received a call from the general director of Mlaysian civil aviation who wants to identify this piece. He's going to send a team to Mozambique”.
MH370 was on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014. The last contact with air traffic control was an hour into the flight, when the plane was above the South China Sea. Malaysian military radar tracked the plane as it deviated from its flight path, and crossed the Malay Peninsula. It disappeared from radar over the Gulf of Thailand.
A massive search for the missing plane was launched, and became the most expensive search operation in aviation history. But to date the only confirmed piece of debris from MH370 found is a portion of a wing flapiron from a Boeing 777. This washed up on a beach on the island of Reunion on 29 July 2015. In September it was positively identified as coming from MH370.