Thursday 28 August 2014

Investigators of MH370 Consider Earlier South Turn

Investigators examining radar and satellite data in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8th this year on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, continue to refine their analysis in an effort to pinpoint the most likely area where the Boeing 777 came down in the South Indian Ocean.

In June, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) awarded Fugro Survey in the Netherlands the contract to map and search an underwater area of 60,000 square miles using two specialist vessels. One vessel, Fugro Equator, is already in the area conducting a bathymetric survey, and will be joined by Fugro Discovery in late September to commence the deep-tow search.

Today, Australia’s deputy prime minister, Warren Truss, said that further analysis of a failed satellite phone call made to the cabin of MH370 after radar contact was lost “suggests to us that the aircraft might have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected”. Until now investigators worked on assumption that MH370 made a south turn over the sea between the north-western Peninsular Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Truss revealed that there is a distinct possibility that the aircraft turned south earlier than what the initial data indicated. The implication of this is that MH370 could have travelled farther south into the South Indian Ocean.

The preliminary report, released on May 1st into the disappearance of MH370, did indicate ground staff at Malaysia Airlines attempted to contact the crew by satellite phone at 02.39 MYT but the call failed. The unanswered call was placed 14 minutes after the last handshake at around the time of the suspected south turn.

Today's news places greater significance on that failed call and may once again send investigators into revision mode as to the precise crash site, and with a 12 month search costing $48 million and about to begin, this really isn't the best time to be rushing back to the drawing board, particularly if that area stretches to or beyond the edges of the current search area.

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