Australia’s government has concluded that it is highly likely that two pieces of aircraft debris found in Mozambique are from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that operated flight MH370.
Transport minister Darren Chester says that a team of experts from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Geoscience Australia, Boeing, the Australian National University, as well as the Malaysian investigation team were involved in analysing the debris.
“The analysis has concluded the debris is almost certainly from MH370,” he says.
Chester adds that the location that the pieces of debris found are consistent with drift modelling, and affirms that it is searching in the right area for the missing aircraft.
In its latest operational update on the search for MH370 released on 23 March, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre says that more than 95,000 square kilometres of the sea floor have been searched, out of a 120,000 square kilometre priority search zone in the southern Indian ocean.
It is expected that the full search will be completed around the middle of the year.
“We are focused on completing this task and remain hopeful the aircraft will be found,” says Chester.
Despite the progress in the search so far, the JACC also disclosed that there has been a second accident involving a towfish being used in the underwater operation.
Chinese vessel Dong Hai Jiu 101 is sailing to Fremantle after losing its towfish on the evening of 21 March whilst operating in the search area, after the tow cable connecter failed. Recovery options are being assessed, the JACC adds.
The incident follows one in January where another towfish was lost after a collision with an underwater mud volcano. That underwater vehicle was subsequently recovered using a remotely-operated vehicle.
The Fugro Discovery vessel is continuing its underwater search operations, while Fugro Equator is enroute to Fremantle for a schedules resupply visit. Havila Harmony is also enroute to Western Australia, having departed the search area on 20 April.
The JACC also says that another piece of debris, which appears to resemble part of an engine cowling, has washed up in South Africa. Malaysian investigators are working with their South African counterparts to arrange an examination of the debris.
It has been over two years since the 777 went missing whilst enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on-board.