MH370 search area moved after aircraft speed data revised

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The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has shifted the search area for the lost Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER northeast from the previous location owing to revised calculations of the aircraft’s speed.

Following AMSA’s receipt of a “new credible lead”, the search has been moved 1,100km to the northeast of the previous search zone to a location 1,850 west of Perth.

The new search area is approximately 319,000km2, it adds.

“The new information is based on continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost,” says AMSA. “It indicated that the aircraft was travelling faster than previously estimated, resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance the aircraft travelled south into the Indian Ocean.”

It adds that the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation is re-tasking satellites to search the new area.

Weather conditions, which have hampered the airborne search for the last two days, have improved, allowing ten aircraft to be dispatched to search for wreckage of MH370 on 28 March.

The search aircraft include Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion aircraft operated by Japan, South Korea, and Australia, a Chinese Ilyushin Il-76, a South Korean C-130, and a US navy operated Boeing P-8 Poseidon. An additional Australian P-3 is on standby at RAAF Pearce to investigate any reported sightings of debris.

AMSA adds that “one civil jet” is acting as a communications relay for the search. Six ships are also searching for the missing aircraft, an Australian navy ship and five Chinese ships.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared while operating the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route during the early morning of Saturday 8 March. The aircraft, bearing registration 9M-MRO, was last observed by Malaysian air force primary radar headed west over the Malacca Strait. The flight carried 239 crew and passengers.

Data provided by satellite firm Inmarsat indicates that the MH370 ended its flight somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean.