The Australian newspaper and its website has today headlined what the rest of the media knew last December about a Defence Science and Technology Group review of the data transmitted by missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 before it crashed into the southern Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014.
The report appears to be an attempt by News Corp to recover some credibility in covering the mysterious disappearance of the Boeing 777-200ER with 239 people on board while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The Australian’s coverage of the mystery appeared to have been captured up until now by the increasingly shrill contributions of a former jet fighter and 777 pilot, Byron Bailey, who had argued that the jet was hand flown to a controlled glided landing by its captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
Mr Bailey’s assertions were already under pressure from clear evidence of a catastrophic impact with the sea by MH370 in the fragments of confirmed or suspected wreckage recovered from coastlines in La Réunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, South Africa and Tanzania.
They were also contradicted by analysis of the data transmitted from MH370 to an engine maintenance facility in the UK via a satellite and a ground station link (and several satellite phone interrogations) that provided clues as to the ultimate southwards course of the jet into the Indian Ocean west or southwest of Western Australia.
Today’s story in The Australian lucidly sums up what other media has been reporting for months as to the rationale of the ATSB in focusing its sea floor search efforts along a so called seventh arc of possible locations some of which lie at depths of up to 6000 metres.
The search has been seriously affected by the limitations and mechanical failures of some of the sonar scanning towfish being used. It may take until December to fully examine a remaining priority search zone of less than 10,000 square kilometres and revisit a range of known blind spots that may be concealing the wreckage.
The search for MH370 has been beset by problems caused by wild seas, and wild, if at times plausible speculations.