Australia Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), the agency leading the search for MH370, says the flaperon discovered on La Reunion Island is consistent with its defined underwater search area in the Southern Indian Ocean.
The agency says drift modelling shows that material from the current search area could have been carried to La Reunion, as well as other locations, as part of a "progressive dispersal of floating debris through the action of ocean currents and wind".
In an operational update, Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) says that work is being undertaken by Malaysian and French authorities to determine whether the flaperon originates from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
It adds that “a great deal of additional material” has also been handed over to the police on La Reunion, although none of it so far appears to have come from an aircraft.
“The drift modelling indicates that if there is any more floating debris from MH370, it could be anywhere in hundreds of thousands of square kilometers in the Indian Ocean," says the JACC.
An expert from ATSB has also been sent to Toulouse to be part of the examination team on the flaperon.
“Malaysian and French officials may be in a position to make a formal statement about the origin of the flaperon later this week,” Australia’s deputy prime minister Warren Truss says in a statement.
The ATSB meanwhile continues to rely on analysis of satellite data and aircraft performance information to define the search area, with efforts to continue focusing on the defined area in the Southern Indian Ocean.
The search area for the missing aircraft has been doubled to 120,000km2, with close to half the area already being combed and yielding no results. Bad weather has also slowed the progress for the two vessels involved.