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New search area for MH370 gives up multiple sightings

For the first time in the 22 day search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 a ship is within reach of multiple aerial sightings of  possible debris from the crashed 777-200ER.

Five aircraft saw many objects in the newly defined search zone which now starts around 1600 kms west of Perth late last night Canberra time, where the find and recover operation is being coordinated by Australian’s maritime safety authority AMSA.

China’s Maritime Administration patrol ship Haixun 01 which is in the area is expected to reach some of the objects by this evening, Saturday  29 March, three weeks after MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people on board.

It ‘went dark’ to regular air traffic control systems 42 minutes later, and Malaysia authorities believe the jet was then intentionally taken off course and was flown to the southern Indian Ocean where it ran out of fuel.

This is the relevant part of the AMSA statement last night:

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  • 1
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    It seems that after three weeks the first physical evidence of this plane may be in human hands later today. Hopefully this leads to finding the Flight Data Recorder before its power runs out, and hopefully that will lead to an explanation of surely the strangest commercial aviation incident ever. At the end of the day whatever the cause it is a terrible tragedy for so many people.

  • 2
    Sunny Coaster
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    The Guardian is now reporting that the search is to be Austrian-led. Hope they’ve got some long-range aircraft.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/28/mh370-search-shifts-700-miles-closer-to-australia#block-5335ce25e4b013a6294014d2

  • 3
    Sunny Coaster
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Oops – they’ve just corrected it.

  • 4
    Hugh Chambers
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Yup, that’s why it’s had the nickname The Grauniad for YEARS

  • 5
    Dan Dair
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Has anyone picked a random area of the Southern oceans & used the debris-field in it as a ‘control-sample’ of what’s normal for debris in the vicinity.?
    The proclamations of sightings of ‘might-be’ aircraft debris is starting to get almost as tedious as the inept initial announcements from the Malaysian minister.!

  • 6
    comet
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The Malaysian minister looked quite silly last night, linking the new crash zone to the previous debris fields and claiming ocean currents might have been responsible.

    Oceanographers quickly chimed in to say that would be impossible due to currents.

    The Malaysian minister should have taken a hint from the Australian press conference earlier in the day, which diminished the link between the earlier debris fields. But he didn’t.

    So it becomes farcical when Malaysia is commenting on these matters when it is actually out of the loop as far as information goes. If you don’t have the information it is better to say nothing, rather than grand stand in front of the international media.

  • 7
    Rob Hughes
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Haven’t seen much speculation as to the nature of the ‘new info’ or analysis that is behind the decision to shift the search area based on new assumptions about the aircraft speed. Obviously there is much that is not being revealed, but I think all the maps of the (known) track show the last heading to be roughly NW. Speed in that direction is not very relevant if it’s concluded the plane ended up somewhere way to the south. If the ping data can’t reconstruct speed that well, what did? If the current debris zone is ‘the one’, then either the new speed data were pretty good, or maybe some other hints were dropped by knowing authorities, based on we know not what. It would seem that if you don’t know the speed and altitude over most of the route, how can you be that accurate about the end point?

  • 8
    discus
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    First one has been identified as fishing equipment apparently.

  • 9
    michael r james
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    @Dan Dair at 9:34 am
    “Has anyone picked a random area of the Southern oceans & used the debris-field in it as a ‘control-sample’ of what’s normal for debris in the vicinity.?”

    I would suppose Tomnod have such data–though perhaps as yet unanalysed by a statistician–from the crowdsourcing projects. (Though, first define “random”.) Problem is that it is a commercial operation (or at least the site is owned by, and data supplied by, Digital Globe) and they don’t reveal anything unless they have to, or are paid to. It’s a private company but their main contractor is the US DOD.

  • 10
    Dan Dair
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    michael r james,

    My point is solely related to the current
    ‘We’ve found some debris, we’ll recover it tomorrow: Oh wait, we’re looking somewhere else tomorrow: We’ve found some debris….’ situation.

    If there was a baseline for how much ‘debris’ was considered normal for the region, then there could be a sensible analysis of the photo’s which could attribute a higher-value to certain reconnaissance results and thus make some areas look more promising as prospective search targets.?

    Obviously it’s worth looking, but is it worth looking hard at what might be considered ‘normal’.?

  • 11
    michael r james
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Dan,

    I don’t disagree but given the stochastic nature of debris in ocean (and paradoxically with less detritus than other oceans it makes the problem worse not better) it is not an easy problem. IMO it could only be tackled with the crowdsourcing approach–anything else is too expensive & time consuming (and error prone; eg. somehow we are now led to believe that those giant fields of debris of 100s of objects were just wave peaks?).

    I was impressed with Tomnod’s first search (in Gulf of Thailand) where they got 30x coverage (from almost a million eyeballs) for the region. I don’t know if Tomnod includes areas deliberately outside the search area to act as “control” but I suspect they might (they clearly have statisticians and analysts running that operation); or when a search area is big enough it probably has enough “internal” control data?

  • 12
    michael r james
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Dan,
    Forgot to mention. WRT your specific point about currents etc. it is worse than you imply. Not only are they quite changeable but you have a big (changeable) effect of winds on surface objects and potentially different (changeable) currents for objects just below the surface. To even approach what you want would require detailed models for all this and then I am not sure how a model would cope with the forever changing nature of the environment down there. Like I said, simply not easy.

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