SYDNEY – New evidence released by Australian government agencies on Wednesday may have narrowed the location of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the lead body behind search operations for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, released two reports, one of which concluded that the location of the aircraft may be identified “with unprecedented precision and certainty.”
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s main scientific agency, conducted drift modeling on imagery captured by a French satellite, two weeks after the passenger plane disappeared.
“We think it is possible to identify a most-likely location of the aircraft, with unprecedented precision and certainty. This location is 35.6 degrees S, 92.8 degrees E.,” the report stated emphatically.
“(We) have a high degree of confidence that an impact in the southern half of the 2016-proposed march area…(is) consistent with detection of debris in the images,” the report stated.
However, despite the CSIRO’s conclusions, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s Chief Commissioner Greg Hood urged caution.
“The image resolution is not high enough to be certain whether the objects originated from MH370 or are other objects that might be found floating in oceans around the world,” he said.
“The information contained within the … reports may be useful in informing any further search effort that may be mounted in the future.”
According to the ATSB, the Malaysian government retains overall authority and responsibility for any future search.
Malaysia, China and Australia in January last year decided to suspend the search until “credible new information” is available.
Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, who also heads the MH370 response team, said in a statement that the team has received several proposals from various parties to search for MH370.
Earlier this month, for example, U.S. seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity offered the Malaysian government its services to hunt for the aircraft, with payment contingent upon success.
“The team is currently assessing these offers in light of all available information including this newly released report which will subsequently be brought to the attention of Australia and China to seek their views,” Azharuddin said.
“I wish to reiterate that the aspiration to locate MH370 has not been abandoned and every decision made has and will always be in the spirit of tripartite cooperation among the three nations,” he added.
The Boeing 777 vanished from radar less than 40 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport just after midnight on March 8, 2014. The plane was on its way to Beijing with 239 people on board, with over two-thirds of the passengers from China.
The ATSB’s final report into the missing aircraft will be released in the third quarter of 2017.