New modelling and analysis of drift patterns corroborate analysis from late 2016 that the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that operated flight MH370 is most likely in a new search area.
The Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) conducted further modelling on behalf of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which has been leading the search efforts.
For its latest tests, the CSIRO used a flaperon that was modified to be consistent with the one recovered from the coast of Reunion Island in July 2015. Prior to that, it had relied on wood and steel replicas that were made to represent the flaperon.
The flaperon was then tested in waters near Hobart.
“We’ve found that an actual flaperon goes about 20 degrees to the left, and faster than the replicas, as we thought it might. The arrival of MH370’s flaperon at La Reunion in July 2015 now makes perfect sense," says the CSIRO's Dr David Griffin.
The ATSB says that the report supports the findings of last year's 'First Principles Review' report, which identified a new area where the aircraft was likely to have come down, outside of the 120,000 square kilometre primary search area in the southern Indian Ocean.
“We cannot be absolutely certain, but that is where all the evidence we have points us, and this new work leaves us more confident in our findings,” Griffin adds.
Australia, Malaysia and China suspended the search for MH370 earlier this year following a three-year underwater search that failed to find trace of the aircraft in the primary search area.
Parts of the missing 777 have washed up along the western coast of Africa, which the ATSB has said is consistent with its previous drift modelling.
MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014 while enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and the official Malaysian investigation has concluded that it ended its flight in the southern Indian Ocean.