Malaysia Airlines MH370: Search area shifts closer to WA coast after ‘credible lead’

28 March 2014

The new search zone

The new search zone

ATSB Issue Statement

[05:11] Martin Dolan, the Chief Commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a statement on the new information that has led to a shift of the search region northwards and now west of Perth, Australia. Dolan stated: He said: “The ATSB, as Australia’s transport investigation agency, is working with a range of other international expert organisations to analyse available data and determine the best area to search. “The key pieces of information being analysed relate to early positional information from the aircraft and later polling of a satellite by an aircraft system. “The new information is based on continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost. “It indicated the plane was travelling faster than previously estimated, resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance it travelled south into the Indian Ocean. “The international investigative team supporting the search continues their analysis, which could still result in further refinement of the potential flight path. “This has been combined with information about the likely performance of the aircraft – such as speed and fuel consumption for example – to arrive at the best assessment of the area in which the aircraft is likely to have entered the water. “The information provided by the international investigative team is the most credible lead we currently have in the search of aircraft wreckage. “However, this information needs to be continually adjusted for the length of time elapsed since the aircraft went missing and the likely drift of any wreckage floating on the ocean surface. “Finally, let me stress that under international convention, Malaysia has investigative responsibility for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. “At this stage, the ATSB’s main task is to assist in the search for the aircraft.

The ABC Australia reports – The search area for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has shifted after a “credible lead” indicated the plane did not travel as far south into the Indian Ocean as first thought.

The Boeing 777 is thought to have crashed on March 8 with 239 people on board, after flying thousands of kilometres off course.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) says the search will shift closer to the West Australian coast based on further analysis of data captured between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost.

The information, provided by the international investigation team in Malaysia, suggests the plane was travelling at a higher speed than previously thought, which would increase fuel use and cut the distance it could travel.

Ten aircraft and six vessels have been sent to the new search location, which is 1,100 kilometres north-east of the previous search zone.

“The new search area is approximately 319,000 square kilometres in area and about 1,850 kilometres west of Perth,” AMSA’s Josh Young told a press conference.

“The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation is re-tasking satellites to capture images of the new area.”

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau says information suggests the plane was travelling at “close to constant speed”

“The information provided by the international investigative team is the most credible lead we currently have in the search for aircraft wreckage,” the bureau’s Martin Dolan said.

“However, this information needs to be continually adjusted for the length of time elapsed since the aircraft went missing and the likely drift of any wreckage floating on the ocean surface.”

Mr Young says the new search area will enable crews to have more time on the scene, as it is closer to Perth.

He says it is also out of the “roaring 40s” area, which frequently creates adverse weather conditions.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the new lead will be thoroughly investigated as experts from around the world work to solve the “baffling mystery”.

Australia is leading the search with help from Japan, South Korea, China, New Zealand and the United States.

Thai satellite finds 300 floating objects

The change in search area comes after Thailand spotted 300 floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean.

Thailand’s Geo-Informatics Space Technology Development Agency says the objects, ranging from two to 15 metres in size, were scattered over an area about 2,700 kilometres south-west of Perth.

“We detected floating objects, perhaps more than 300,” said Anond Snidvongs, the agency’s executive director.

“But we cannot – dare not – confirm they are debris from the plane.”

The pictures were taken by Thailand’s only Earth observation satellite on Monday but needed several days to process.

The objects were spotted about 200 kilometres away from an area where French satellite images earlier showed potential objects in the search for the missing plane.

The French satellite detected more than 100 objects in an area about 2,500 kilometres south-west of Perth.

A Japanese satellite also captured images of 10 objects which could be part of the plane, Kyodo news agency quoted the government as saying on Thursday.

Thai satellite image of objects in search for MH370

Captain’s son dismisses speculation of intentional crash

Meanwhile, the youngest son of the pilot on the flight has dismissed speculation his father may have crashed the plane intentionally.

Ahmad Seth, son of captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, says he knows what kind of man his father was.

“I’ve read everything online. But I’ve ignored all the speculation. I know my father better,” Mr Ahmad, 26, was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying.

 

“We may not be close as he travels so much. But I understand him.”

Mr Zaharie, 53, along with his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, has come under intense scrutiny after Malaysian authorities said flight MH370’s disappearance was due to “deliberate” action by someone on the plane.

Malaysian police have already questioned the family members of the pilots and other crew and seized a home-built flight simulator which Mr Zaharie installed in his house.

But they have not announced finding any evidence against him.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation will complete its analysis of data deleted from the flight simulator in the next few days.

FBI chief James Comey did not indicate whether the results of the analysis would be made public.

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