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Ocean drift analysis shows MH370 most likely in new search area: Australian scientists
April 21, 2017 / 5:34 AM / 6 months ago

Ocean drift analysis shows MH370 most likely in new search area: Australian scientists

SYDNEY (Reuters) - 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 Boeing 777 flaperon cut down to match the one from flight MH370 found on Reunion island off the coast of Africa in 2015, is lowered into water to discover its drift characteristics by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation researchers in Tasmania, Australia, in this handout image taken March 23, 2017. CSIRO/Handout via REUTERS

A A$200 million ($150.54 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 120,000 sq km (46,000 sq mile) 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 25,000 sq km (9,652 sq mile) zone within that proposed northern search area.

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

The CSIRO report featured data and analysis from ocean testing of an actual Boeing 777 flaperon cut down to match the one from MH370 found on Reunion island off the coast of Africa in 2015, rather than the wood and steel models used in a previous test.

A Boeing 777 flaperon (L) cut down to match the one from flight MH370 found on Reunion island off the coast of Africa in 2015, floats after being lowered into water to discover its drift characteristics by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation researchers in Tasmania, Australia, in this handout image taken March 23, 2017. CSIRO/Handout via REUTERS

“We’ve found that an actual flaperon goes (drifts) about 20 degrees to the left, and faster than the replicas, as we thought it might,” said Griffin. “The arrival of MH370’s flaperon at La Reunion in July 2015 now makes perfect sense.”

Flight officer Rayan Gharazeddine looks out of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Rob Griffith/Pool/File Photo

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.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Michael Perry

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