A piece of an airplane wing that could belong to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that went missing over a year ago has washed up on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
A former military pilot and specialist in aviation security named Xavier Tytelman tweeted a photo of the airplane debris on Wednesday morning remarking on the “incredible similarities” between the wreckage found and a Boeing 777.
— Xavier Tytelman (@PeurAvion) July 29, 2015
Tytelman told the The Telegraph he was contacted by a man on the island who found the debris.
“I’ve been studying hundreds of photos and speaking to colleagues,” said Tytelman. “And we all think it is likely that the wing is that of a Boeing 777–the same plane as MH370.”
A U.S. official told The Associated Press later in the day that air safety investigators have a “high degree of confidence” that a photo of aircraft debris is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777.
Local media Zinfos 97-4, reported that the debris was found behind the Bois Rouge sugar factory in the coastal area of Saint-André and that local and national police were onsite. Zinfos also reported that the wing was dilapidated and covered in small shells, which would be consistent with being at sea for more than a year.
However, Tytelman wrote in a blog post that a reference number found on the debris, BB670, does not correspond to the registration number or any other related serial number from the Malaysia Airlines craft. He notes, though, that the existence of the number means there should be a definitive answer as to whether the wing is part of MH370 or not in a matter of days.
Tytelman is also an instructor at the Fear of Flying Treatment Center (Centre de Traitement de la Peur de l’Avion) with locations in France and Belgium.
Réunion has a population of just under 850,000 people and is located east of Madagascar and just southwest of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.
Flight 370 was headed from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing on March 8, 2014, when it abruptly disappeared from radar. It’s been a mystery ever since, what happened to the airliner with 239 people on board. So far the search covering tens of thousands of square miles of ocean has failed to turn up any signs of the jet.