By Andrew Marszal
09 Jun 2014
“Inescapable uncertainties” over speed, flight path and altitude of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 mean search area will shift again, reports claim
The search for MH370 looks set to expand further as authorities on Monday signalled another major shift in the search area, in what is already set to be the most costly search in aviation history.
New doubts over previous calculations concerning the missing Malaysia Airlines flight’s speed, flight path and altitude have caused authorities to refocus their efforts on new sections of the vast Indian Ocean, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Describing all calculations concerning the plane’s final location as “educated guesses”, people familiar with the process told the newspaper that search teams are likely to shift “significantly south or southwest” from the areas of the ocean bed scoured in May.
An announcement on the location of the new area is expected by mid-June.
However, this could be delayed by ongoing disagreements between investigators from different countries.
Experts from the various countries are “looking at the same data with their own techniques,” said Mark Dickinson, head of the search team at Inmarsat, the British satellite company whose analysis of the plane’s “digital handshakes” has guided much of the search so far.
“It’s not an X-marks-the-spot thing,” he told the newspaper.
One new point of contention is the time and location at which MH370 turned south toward the Indian Ocean.
Previous interpretations of satellite data which suggested this change in direction occurred two hours into the flight have been reassessed, according to the new reports.
It is now thought that the data apparently indicating a change in direction was instead merely showing a “power cycling” of the plane’s on-board satellite communications system.
The new calculations would present an entire new raft of possible scenarios concerning the plane’s speed and direction, creating a fragmented set of new possible search areas.
Malaysian officials said at a press conference on Monday they would travel to Australia to map out the new search area.
Authorities also revealed for the first time the amount spent on the search so far, briefing reporters that a total of just over 27.6 million ringgit (£5 million) has already been spent by Malaysia alone so far.
This is a separate figure from the maximum total of 60 million Australian dollars (£33.4m) which Australian authorities have said will be set aside for the search.