The Australian Transport Safety Bureau confirmed Wednesday a wing flap found recently near Tanzania was from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. But in its latest operational update about the hunt for plane wreckage, it cautioned people not to jump to conclusions about the MH370 debris.
"While the debris affirms the focus of search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean, it does not, however, provide information that can be used to determine a specific location of the aircraft," the bureau wrote.
Ever since the Boeing 777 vanished in March 2014 with 239 people on board, officials have been scanning a predetermined 120,000-square-kilometer area of the floor of the Indian Ocean for debris. They haven't turned up anything. All the wreckage, including the Tanzania wing part definitively linked to MH370 last week, has been found by amateurs.
Investigators plan to pause the search after completing their sweep of the 120,000-square-kilometer area, which they're on track to do by December.
But whether they've been looking in the right places depends on who you're talking to. Earlier this year, one investigator said he thought a pilot had glided MH370 down to the water, an action that could have taken it outside the boundaries of the search area, according to the Huffington Post. The condition of the Tanzania wing flap may suggest the opposite: that the crash wasn't controlled and therefore likely occurred within the search region.
In any case, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau wrote Wednesday that poor weather conditions that had been affecting the search vessels in the area was finally improving, enabling the Fugro Equator to restart its search operations. The Dong Hai Jiu 101 was still in port waiting for better conditions.
Meanwhile, more than 20 pieces of would-be MH370 wreckage from places like South Africa and Mozambique were undergoing analysis, the Malaysian National News Agency reported. Malaysian transport minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said he thought results would come back within three months.