Ocean drift analysis shows MH370 most likely in new search area

Fresh evidence confirms that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is most likely located to the north of a main search zone, Australian scientists say

An image showing both the genuine and replica flaperons used for the drift analysis
An image showing both the genuine and replica flaperons used for the drift analysis

A new ocean debris drift analysis shows missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 is most likely within a proposed expanded search area rejected by Australia and Malaysia in January, the Australian government's scientific agency said on Friday.

A A$200 million (€140.64 million) search for the aircraft, which went missing in 2014 with 239 people onboard, was suspended when the two nations rejected a recommendation to search north of the 120,000sq km area already canvassed, saying the new area was too imprecise.

The new debris drift analysis suggests the missing Boeing 777 may be located in a much smaller 25,000sq km zone within that proposed northern search area.

“This new work leaves us more confident in our findings,” David Griffin, a principal research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said in a statement.

The announcement raises hopes that Malaysia, which under international law has responsibility for the investigation into the loss, might be persuaded to the resume the hunt for the Boeing 777 which was suspended in January.

The new research by the CSIRO involved releasing into the ocean off Tasmania replicas of the part of the wing called a flaperon which washed up on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion in July 2015, which was subsequently confirmed to be from MH370.

The objects were tracked by transmitters, and the study determined the actual flaperon was caught by the wind in a fashion different from the other objects, and moved at a different angle and speed.

In comments to The Australian, Griffin explained how the flaperon from MH370 could have reached Reunion and at the time it did, and confirmed a high certainty that the aircraft lies in the new proposed target zone to the north of the area covered in the original failed search.

The location of MH370, which went missing on a flight to Beijing from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, has become one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.

Australian minister for infrastructure and transport Darren Chester said he welcomed the new CSIRO report but said it was important to note it did not provide new evidence leading to a specific location of MH370.

He said a copy of the report had been provided to Malaysia for consideration in its ongoing investigation into the disappearance of the aircraft.

“Malaysia is the lead investigator and any future requests in relation to searching for MH370 would be considered by Australia, at that time," Chester said.

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