SUNDAY TIMES - Aviation boffins probe debris in MH370 hunt
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Sunday Times News By Staff Reporter And Agencies, 2016-03-23

Aviation boffins probe debris in MH370 hunt

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER flight MH318 to Beijing sits on the tarmac as passengers are reflected in the glass at the boarding gate at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at approximately 12:20am March 17, 2014.
Image: EDGAR SU REUTERS

A day after the announcement of a South African find in the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370‚ experts have begun analysis of debris found in Mozambique‚ Australian authorities said on Wednesday.

So far‚ only a wing part from the Boeing 777 recovered from a beach on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion has been confirmed as being from the wreckage.

MH370 disappeared on March 8‚ 2014 during a Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight with 239 passengers and crew on board.

The two items from Mozambique have been X-rayed and cleaned to remove macrofauna‚ Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement.

Specialists — including some from Australia‚ Malaysia and Boeing — were “conducting an examination which will include seeking to identify specific features that may be consistent with the items coming from an aircraft‚ and if possible‚ from MH370”‚ the JACC added.

“A statement on the findings will be made once the examination process is complete.”

The JACC added that Malaysia was working with South African officials to arrange for the examination of another piece of debris “suspected to be the cowling from an engine".

South African authorities said on Tuesday the fragment was picked up on Monday in Klein Brak Rivier near Mossel Bay.

Neels Kruger‚ a Pretoria archaeologist and an aviation enthusiast‚ told News24 he found the wreckage while walking with his family alongside the lagoon.

"At first I found it strange‚ but then I had a closer look and saw the honeycomb core on the inside of the wreckage‚" Kruger said.

While he was not sure what part of the plane it could be‚ he assumed it was the housing of the plane's engine.

When he flipped over the debris‚ it had the grey stripes of the Rolls Royce logo underneath. "I could still see half of the Rolls Royce logo‚ which had the double R imprinted on it‚" he said.

Malaysia Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said on Tuesday it would send a team to retrieve the piece.

He reportedly said that‚ based on early reports‚ there was a possibility that it was part of an "inlet cowling of an aircraft engine".

Klein Brak Rivier is more than 2000km from Vilankulo‚ the Mozambican resort where one of the pieces being examined in Australia was found.

Australia is leading the search for the missing passenger jet in the southern Indian Ocean‚ where the aircraft is believed to have crashed after diverting from its route.

More than 95 000 square kilometres of the 120 000-square kilometre target zone has been searched so far‚ with investigators due to wrap up the hunt in June-July if the plane is not found in the area.

Australian search officials added that a second “towfish“‚ an underwater sonar vehicle pulled behind a search ship and fitted with survey instruments‚ had been lost to the ocean floor on March 21. Options to recover it were being considered.

A towfish was lost in January after hitting an undersea volcano but was later recovered.

– TMG Digital and Agencies