The report supports the theory that the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was deliberately diverted before it crashed.
U.S. intelligence wrote the report months ago, but it has only recently come to light, an unnamed source told ABC News. Officers based their report on evidence that the plane changed course on multiple occasions, according to The Telegraph.
Debris washes up on Reunion Island
The plane has been missing since March 2014, and this week it appears that the first piece of debris was recovered.
Information is still sorely lacking as to the fate of the aircraft. The source cited by ABC News claims that the U.S. report was based on the foreign investigation into the case, which has not publicly revealed its findings. The fact that the wreckage was recovered on Reunion Island does not necessarily indicate that the plane was off course when it crashed.
Analysts have previously speculated that the plane may have been deliberately sabotaged. The plane disappeared during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and Reuters reported that military radar data released at the time supported the theory that someone had flown it hundreds of miles away from the planned flight path over the Indian Ocean.
The New York Times also ran a report which claimed that MH370 experienced dramatic changes in altitude after ending radio contact with ground control. The fact that the plane changed course multiple times makes it more likely that a trained pilot was still in control.
Investigators working to confirm debris is from MH370
An announcement by Malaysian officials just weeks after the disappearance stated that available evidence suggested the plane had crashed in the Indian Ocean with no survivors. The ensuing investigation has yet to determine the cause of the crash.
Despite excitement over plane debris which washed up on Reunion this week, it may not help investigators to determine what happened. Although researchers may be able to confirm that the debris was part of MH370, there is only a minute possibility that they will be able to work out where the plane entered the water.
No debris was detected on the surface of the ocean in the immediate aftermath of the crash. The lack of evidence suggests that the plane entered the water largely intact and quickly sank. The Times reports that this theory rules out an explosion and also supports the idea that someone flew the plane off course and crashed it into the ocean.
Search for plane continues over large area
Australian officials claim that the discovery of the debris is a “major lead” in the search for the plane. Crews have been scouring the southern Indian Ocean near the Australian coast, but have not found any debris from the aircraft.
If investigators can locate the black boxes from MH370, it will provide them with detailed information as to the movements of the aircraft prior to its disappearance. The search is complicated by strong sea currents in the Indian Ocean, extending the zone where debris may be found to cover a huge tract of ocean.
The debris washed up on the French island of Reunion, and has since been shipped to Paris for tests. Even if authorities can prove the provenance of the plane debris, they may not be any closer to finding other parts of the plane.
However there is a chance that scientists could use data on ocean currents to predict possible crash sites and focus their search efforts on those areas. The mystery of MH370 continues to grip the international community, and there remains hope that the 239 missing people will eventually be laid to rest.