[caption id="attachment_120221" align="aligncenter" width="700"]
In this July 29, 2015 file photo, French police officers inspect a piece of debris from a plane in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island. Confirmation that a wing flap found on an island in the western Indian Ocean is part of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 would add a critical piece to the puzzle of the Boeing 777's disappearance 17 months ago. (AP Photo/Lucas Marie, File)[/caption]
French investigators have formally identified a washed-up piece of airplane debris found in July on a remote island in the Indian Ocean as part of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 that disappeared more than a year ago with 239 people aboard.
Investigators have been examining the wing part, called a flaperon, since it was flown to a French aeronautical research laboratory near Toulouse last month. Malaysian authorities had already declared that the wing fragment was from the missing jet, but until now French investigators couldn't say with certitude that it was the case.
The Paris prosecutor's office said in a statement Thursday that investigators used maintenance records to match a serial number found on the wing part with the missing Boeing.
"Today it is possible to state with certitude that the flaperon discovered on Reunion July 29, 2015 corresponds with that of Flight MH370," the prosecutor's statement said.
The flight disappeared March 8, 2014.