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ATSB outlines analysis process for MH370 debris

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) relied on markings and fasteners to determine that two pieces of debris that washed up on African shores are "almost certainly" from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that was operating the fateful MH370 flight.

The ATSB says that it was requested by the Malaysian government in March to examine the two pieces of debris, which washed up separately in South Africa and Mozambique.

After being collected and packaged by the respective civil aviation authorities, the aircraft pieces were sent to Canberra and quarantined at a Geoscience Australia facility where they were unwrapped, examined for biological material and washed prior to handover to the ATSB for analysis.

The first piece of debris was initially identified as a segment from a 777 flap fairing panel by the presence of a stenciled part number. Although the stenciling did not match that used by Boeing, it was consistent with stencils used by Malaysia Airlines on its 777s, including the missing aircraft – 9M-MRO.

"All measurable dimensions, materials, construction and other identifiable features conformed to the applicable Boeing drawings for the identified fairing," the Bureau adds.

The second part was also identified from a ‘No step’ stenciling, which again corresponded with Malaysian Airlines’ stencils but not those originally used by Boeing. The ATSB says that this allowed it to identify the piece as part of the aircraft’s horizontal stabiliser.

The piece also had a fastener with markings which were consistent with those used on the 777 manufactured immediately after 9M-MRO.

The ATSB adds that analysis with respect to the marine ecology found on the parts is continuing, as well as testing of material samples.

Nonetheless, it says that it is almost certain that the two parts are from the missing 777.

Flight MH370 went missing in the early hours of 8 March 2014 while enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A large underwater search for the wreckage and crash site of the 777 in the southern Indian Ocean is expected to continue until mid-year.

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