In an interview with BBC Television, Inmarsat officials say that the Australian-led southern Indian Ocean search has yet to scour the most likely resting place of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared March 8th while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Inmarsat tells the BBC that one reason the search for the missing aircraft may not have borne fruit is that because the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield was prematurely side-tracked by four putative pings from the missing aircraft’s black box data recorders.
“It was by no means an unrealistic location but it was further to the north east than our area of highest probability,” Inmarsat official Chris Ashton tells the BBC.
However, Ethan Hunt, the project leader for the newly-formed Reward MH370 Team, told Forbes.com that he hopes that by raising a $5 million reward a whistle-blower will come forward with “vital clues to solve this mystery.”
“To date, the Inmarsat data has proven inconclusive in the area being searched and could potentially have distracted the search from the real location of MH370,” said Hunt. “Inmarsat [has yet] to release the full data spectrum to the families for independent review.”
Hunt also says that Rolls Royce, the aircraft’s engine manufacturer, has not released any of its MH370 data.
Sarah Bajc, partner of MH370 passenger Philip Wood, told Forbes.com that “experts” she has consulted maintain that the Inmarsat calculations are impossible to verify without the full set of engine data.
“What was released was only a small subset of what exists,” said Bajc. “If Inmarsat is being completely truthful in their assertion that they have released “everything,” then it is the Malaysian government who is withholding information. But the Malaysian government claims they have released everything that was shared with them. Clearly, one party is lying.”
Since the U.S. Navy’s Bluefin-21 submersible finished its survey for the aircraft’s seafloor wreckage, search efforts have centered on characterizing the seafloor search area via an ongoing painstaking bathymetric mapping. However, Hunt remains skeptical.
“Until all data is released for independent review any further searching of the Indian Ocean could potentially be a waste of valuable Australian taxpayer dollars,” said Hunt.