MH370: Plane 'not likely to be in search area', say investigators


In this March 22, 2014 file photo, flight officer Rayan Gharazeddine scans the water in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia from a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion during a search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.Image copyright
AP

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The search in the Indian Ocean began immediately after the disappearance of MH370 in March 2014

Investigators leading the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have said the plane is not likely to be in the current search area, but could be further north.

Search vessels have been combing a vast 120,000 sq km (46,332 sq miles) patch of the Indian Ocean.

No wreckage has been found yet and the operation is due to end in early 2017.

The plane had 239 people onboard travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared in 2014.

Australia’s Transport Minister Darren Chester said, however, that the search would not likely be extended as the report does not give a “specific location” for the aircraft.

The governments of Australia, Malaysia and China, who are funding the search, had previously agreed that “we will be suspending the search unless credible evidence is available” that identifies the location, he said.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), tasked to coordinate the search, convened a review with a multi-national team of aviation and science experts in November.

Its latest report, based on that meeting, said “there is a high degree of confidence that the previously identified underwater area searched to date does not contain the missing aircraft”.

Experts identified a new area of approximately 25,000 sq km to the north of the current search area that had the “highest probability” of containing the wreckage.

This, they said, was the last area the plane could possibly be located, given current evidence.

Image copyright
EPA

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The current search for the Malaysia Airlines plane is due to end in early 2017

Their conclusion was based on new flight simulations and analysis of satellite communications, as well as drift modelling patterns based on the timing and locations of the discovery of debris.

Some debris pieces confirmed to be from MH370 have been found along the African coast and islands in the Indian Ocean by private citizens in recent months.

The experts also said the plane was on an “unstable flight path” and that its wing flaps were in a retracted position, in line with earlier findings by the ATSB that the plane made a “rapid and uncontrolled descent”.

The ATSB said it had presented the recommendation to the Malaysian, Chinese and Australian governments.

Only one vessel is left searching for the plane in the current search area.


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