20 March 2014
AMSA says largest object is about 24 metres across.
Aviation writer Ben Sandilands of “Plane Speaking” reports as developments occur.
Sydney Australia – Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called the Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak to say search aircraft are on their way to inspect the site of satellite images which appear to show wreckage that may be from MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.
1430 eastern daylight time
PM Abbott told Question Time in Federal Parliament that new satellite images show two possible objects in the ocean and an Australian Orion aircraft is en route to the area.
“New and credible information has come to light in relation to the search in the south Indian Ocean,” he said.
“The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search.”
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a 777-200ER with 239 people on board, disappeared from air traffic control systems as a transponder identified flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing 42 minutes after departing at 12.40 am on 8 March.
The first aircraft to reach the scene will be an RAAF Orion which was already working on or preparing for a sweep of today’s target zone when it was diverted to the coordinates of the satellite image. The PM said that aircraft was due there at about this time.
AMSA supplied photo of flight deck of an RAAF Orion
A live briefing on Australian networks will be held at 1530 by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Canberra.
This is the third day of the Australian search of the most southern extensions of the search area in the south Indian Ocean. On the first day in a media briefing AMSA revealed that it had relied on satellite data analysed by the NTSB in the US to select areas to be swept by a fleet of up to four RAAF P3 Orions as well as a New Zealand Orion, a US Orion, and a US Poseidon P8.
US reports quote USN source as saying one of its P8 Poseidons may also be close to the point of interest.
Malaysia acting transport minister and minister of defence Hishammuddin Hussein says he believes this is “an important new lead.”
AMSA briefing main points
This is very credible information.
This morning AMSA was shown analysis of blurry images taken by a satellite the Air Commodore John McGarry could not identify which showed two main objects, the largest 24 metres across and smaller objects near the largest objects.
John Young, the MD of AMSA’s search and rescue division, said the large objects appeared to be awash.
The resolution of the images didn’t allow resolution of objects as small as an aircraft window.
Commercial and ‘other’ satellites offering higher resolutions are being reassigned to look for more detail, if the objects can be found (that is, haven’t sunk, or are hidden by conditins).
There is no time estimate on these commmissioned images.
(more as it happens)