The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 made a major shift Friday morning (local time) as a result of what the Australian authorities called null
The lead, in the form of new radar data analysis of the aircraft’s actual flight path, now moves the most active Indian Ocean search area for Flight MH370, about a 1100 km (682 mi) northeast of its previous position.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) reports that this new information is based on the ongoing analysis of radar data as the aircraft transited the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca.
If indeed these new calculations are correct, it could significantly improve the chances for at least finding surface debris from the downed aircraft, which originally went missing March 8, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
This new analysis apparently indicates that the 777 was traveling faster, and therefore depleting its fuel more quickly, than previously estimated. As a result, the new thinking is that the aircraft could likely have gone down several hundred miles north of its previously estimated crash site.
This new search area, which comprises some 319,000 square kilometers (198,000 sq mi) and is located roughly 1,850 km (1147 mi) west of Perth, is also subject to significantly better weather than the earlier southern Indian Ocean search area.
In addition, to the ten aircraft and six surface ships en route or now already on the scene, AMSA confirmed that both a U.S. towed sonar pinger locator and a Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) have arrived in Perth to assist in the search for the downed aircraft’s flight data recorders (or black boxes).
New satellite “leads” have been coming almost daily. Thus, it’s important to note that just within just the last 48 hours, AMSA announced that satellites had detected several hundred pieces of debris within the original search area. Again, that’s several hundred miles south of this potential new northeastern debris field.
It all gives pause to wonder: Is the southern Indian Ocean always so populated with so many seemingly disparate pieces of debris?
To paraphrase Australia’s Air Marshall Mark Binskin in recent comments to reporters — if this new radar data bears fruit, it might just provide searchers with a fighting chance in at least finding “the haystack” if not “the needle” itself.