Published On: Mar 24 2014 10:51:16 AM CDTUpdated On: Mar 03 2016 08:31:16 AM CST
A piece of plane debris found off the coast of Mozambique has renewed hope of solving the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. A U.S. official said it was likely the wreckage came from MH370, while Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said there was a "high possibility" the part came from a Boeing 777, the aircraft that disappeared on the doomed flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Malaysia Airlines has yet to comment.
Here is a look at the unprecedented international effort to solve what has become one of modern aviation's greatest mysteries.
The area the plane went down in is considered one of the most remote in the world.
A piece of debris found on a French beach was confirmed as part of missing Malaysian Flight 370, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Aug. 5, 2015.
At one point, the search covered an area nearly the size of the United States.
One of the initial search areas west of Perth was so remote that it took three hours just to get there by plane.
Crews then had only a couple hours to search before having to return so they didn't run out of fuel.
Investigators initially focused on an area in the South China Sea, where the plane was last detected at a normal cruising altitude of 35,000 feet in the early hours of March 8, 2014.
Crews then focused their efforts on an area 1,500 miles west of Perth after several reports of debris being spotted. Here, members of the Australian Defense Force drop data markers over possible debris fields.
The search later went underwater, with the U.S. military bringing in a "ping detector" in an attempt to pick up data from the airliner's black box. In this handout image provided by the Australian Department of Defense, a Phoenix underwater drone Bluefin-21 is lifted over the side of Australian naval vessel Ocean Shield on April 14, 2014.
The debris found on the remote western Indian Ocean island of Reunion on July 29, 2015, was called "a very significant development" in the search for Flight 370. Investigators believe the plane went down in the southeastern Indian Ocean, and searchers have been looking for the bulk of the plane at the bottom of the ocean off western Australia. Officials say Reunion is within the range of where debris from the missing plane could have drifted.
The debris was the first physical piece of evidence discovered in the search until independent searchers found more debris on March 2, 2015.
American Blaine Gibson had chartered a boat for a weekend trip off the coast of Mozambique and found the plane part washed ashore on a sandbar after it was spotted by the boat's captain. He is also part of an independent group that interpreted data in a bid to find the missing plane. It's not unusual for private people and companies to get involved in searches for missing planes, especially when the search has gone on for a long time.
The wreckage is a piece of horizontal stabilizer skin, the U.S. official said, the part of the aircraft's tail that keeps horizontal as the plane flies. It measures about 35 inches by 22 inches and is apparently from a Boeing 777, like the missing MH370 airliner. The debris includes a fastener, which an executive at the fastener company, LISI Aerospace, said is a pretty standard part.