Malaysia Airlines said on Sunday that the Boeing 777-200 that disappeared with 239 people aboard suffered a broken wing tip in 2012 but was fully repaired and cleared to fly.
The incident occurred in a minor collision with another aircraft on the ground at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport, according to previous reports.
"The aircraft had a clipped wing tip. A portion, possibly a metre (1.1 yard) of the wing tip, was torn," Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told reporters.
"It was repaired by Boeing and cleared by Boeing and was approved by various authorities. It was safe to fly."
Speculation has mounted over what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight 370, which vanished early Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Its last known location was recorded over waters somewhere between Malaysia and southern Vietnam.
No debris has yet been found, but Vietnam and Malaysia have said oil slicks were spotted near where contact with the plane was lost.
Two people had boarded the missing flight with stolen European passports. Malaysia's transport minister said authorities were looking into the identities of another two who also were on the plane.
Chinese state media said Sunday that a Chinese person whose passport number was among those listed aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight did not in fact board the plane.
Officials said they were also examining the possibility that the pilot had attempted to turn back to Kuala Lumpur, citing radar data indicating a change of course.