The search for Malaysian Airlines (Kuala Lumpur) missing flight MH 370 with Boeing 777-2H6 ER 9M-MRO (msn 28420) with 239 souls on board has shifted to a new area in the Indian Ocean after new analysis of the data and the spotting of new objects by a Royal New Zealand Air Force Lockheed P-3 Orion in this new area. The new area is approximately 680 miles further north of the previous search area which did not yield any confirmed debris from flight MH 370. The new analysis is due to new computations that MH 370 could have been flying faster and may have run out of fuel earlier.
According to AMSA a total of five aircraft spotted objects today in the new area. A ship will be in the new area tomorrow.
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The Australia Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) which is leading the search from Perth, Western Australia has issued this statement about the change:
We would like to update you on some credible information AMSA has received from the ATSB which will see the search area refocused today.
The AMSA search for any sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been shifted to an area north following advice from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
An international air crash investigation team in Malaysia provided updated advice to the ATSB, which has examined the information and determined an area 1100 kilometres to the north east of the existing search area is now the most credible lead as to where debris may be located.
The new search area is approximately 319,000 square kilometres, about 1850 kilometres west of Perth.
The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO) is re-tasking satellites to capture images of the new area.
Weather conditions are better in the revised area and ten aircraft have been tasked for today’s search.
They include two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orions, a Japanese Coast Guard Gulfstream 5 jet, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea C130 Hercules, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin IL-76, a United States Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft, and one civil Australian jet acting as a communications relay.
Four of the ten aircraft are overhead the search area, with a further six planes to fly over the area today.
A further RAAF P3 Orion has been placed on standby at RAAF Base Pearce in WA to investigate any reported sightings.
Six ships are relocating to the new search area including HMAS Success and five Chinese ships.
Chinese Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) patrol ship, Haixun 01, is in the search area.
HMAS Success is expected to arrive in the search area late tomorrow night.
A US towed pinger locator and Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle have arrived in Perth to assist with location and recovery of the black box.
The depth of the water in the search area is between 2000 and 4000 metres.
Meanwhile Malaysia Airlines issued this statement today:
Today, the search for MH370 has been further refined. The international investigation team continue working to narrow the search area, and shed further light on MH370’s flight path.
We are, as always, grateful for the continuing co-operation of our partners in this difficult and intensive search.
Whilst search operations are on-going, we continue to focus our efforts on caring for the families. In Cabinet this morning, we discussed the importance of continuing to support the relatives of the passengers and crew.
1. Refined search area
On Monday, the Prime Minister announced that based on new data analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB had concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.
On Tuesday, I confirmed that further study of this data would be undertaken to attempt to determine the final position of the aircraft. The Malaysian investigation team set up an international working group, comprising agencies with expertise in satellite communications and aircraft performance, to take this work forward.
The international working group included representatives from the UK, namely Inmarsat, AAIB, and Rolls Royce; from China, namely the CAAC and AAID; from the US, namely the NTSB, FAA, and Boeing; as well as the relevant Malaysian authorities.
The group has been working to refine the Inmarsat data, and to analyse it – together with other information, including radar data and aircraft performance assumptions – to narrow the search area.
Information which had already been examined by the investigation was re-examined in light of new evidence drawn from the Inmarsat data analysis.
In addition, international partners – who continue to process data in their home countries, as well as in the international working group – have further refined existing data. They have also come up with new technical information, for example on aircraft performance.
Yesterday, this process yielded new results, which indicated that MH370 flew at a higher speed than previously thought, which in turn means it used more fuel and could not travel as far. This information was passed to RCC Australia by the NTSB, to help further refine and narrow the search area.
The Australian authorities have indicated that they have shifted the search area approximately 1,100 kilometres to the north east. Because of ocean drift, this new search area could still be consistent with the potential objects identified by various satellite images over the past week.
This work is on-going, and we can expect further refinements. As the Australian authorities indicated this morning, this is standard practice in a search operation. It is a process of continually refining data which in turn further narrows the search area. With each step, we get closer to understanding MH370’s flight path.
Searches must be conducted on the best information available at the time. In the search for MH370, we have consistently followed the evidence, and acted on credible leads. Our search and rescue efforts have been directed by verified and corroborated information. This latest refinement of the search area is no different.
2. Satellite images
Last night, Japanese authorities announced they had satellite images which showed a number of floating objects approximately 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth. Early this morning we received separate satellite imagery from the Thai authorities which also showed potential objects.
These new satellite images join those released by Australia, China, France, and Malaysia, all of which are with RCC Australia. The range of potential objects, and the difficulty in re-identifying them shows just how complex this investigation is. We remain grateful to all our partners for continuing to assist in the search operations.
3. Concluding remarks
The new search area, approximately 1,680 kilometres west of Perth, remains in the Australian area of responsibility.
Australia continues to lead the search efforts in this new area, and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority gave a comprehensive operational update earlier today. As more information emerges, they will be issuing frequent operational updates, including on assets deployed.
I would like to echo their statements that the new search area, although more focused than before, remains considerable; and that the search conditions, although easier than before, remain challenging.
For the families of those on board, we pray that further processing of data, and further progress in the search itself, brings us closer to finding MH370.
Map: AMSA. The new search area (in green) is 1,850 kilometers (1,155 miles) directly west of Perth .