Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is probably further north in the Indian Ocean than the zone which has been exhaustively searched, a panel of experts has said.
The First Principles Review released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau yesterday recommends searching another vast expanse of the Southern Indian Ocean – 25,000 square kilometres. Already, 120,000 square kilometres has been searched.
“Based on the analysis to date, completion of this [new] area would exhaust all prospective areas for the presence of MH370,” said the report. It has not been decided that a new search will take place, however, and the Australian government is likely to suspend efforts once the current search is over.
The massive undersea hunt for the plane (which disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014, carrying 239 passengers and crew) has found no trace. There is no shortage of debris, however. More than 20 pieces have been recovered in various places, mostly on shorelines fringing the Indian Ocean, some confirmed as coming from the doomed flight.
Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, yesterday welcomed the release of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) report MH370 – First Principles Review.
“The ATSB report is the result of the First Principles Review workshop in November which was attended by members of the Search Strategy Working Group and international experts,” Chester said.
“The information in the ATSB report, however, does not give a specific location of the missing aircraft.
“We are very close to completing the 120,000 square kilometre underwater search area, and we remain hopeful that we will locate the aircraft.
“As agreed at the Tripartite Ministers meeting in Malaysia in July we will be suspending the search unless credible evidence is available that identifies the specific location of the aircraft.
“The search for MH370 has been the largest in aviation history and has tested the limits of technology, and the capacity of our experts and people at sea.
“Our thoughts remain with the families and loved ones of the 239 people on board,” Chester said.
The report can be downloaded as a PDF file from the ATSB website here.
Written by Peter Needham