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Dec 20, 2016

New final MH370 search zone defined in latest ATSB study

MH370 partners have decided it makes sense to look into the depths of a final 25,000 square km sea floor search zone in south Indian Ocean

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The current and new search areas for MH370
The current and new search areas for MH370

Updated: There is no clarification as yet to reports that the Australian Minister responsible for aviation, Darren Chester, has rejected outright the new search recommendation of the tripartite First Principles review.

Australia manages the search on behalf of Malaysia and China, who also have a say in formulating agreed decisions. Mr Chester’s ability to communicate on aviation matters with clarity and certainty and to understand his portfolio has been a topic of discussion within the industry since he took it over from former deputy PM Warren Truss.

There may well be one last look for the sunk wreckage of MH370, the missing Malaysia Airlines 777, in the depths of the southern Indian Ocean in the early part of 2017.

The new 25,000 square kilometre search zone if it is acted upon is immediately to the northeast of the currently all but exhausted 120,000 square kilometre priority zone where the ATSB led search effort has nearly completed close up studies using an autonomous underwater vehicle or AUV of deep and complex features that it couldn’t previously resolve with clarity with sonar scanning towfish.

In a First Principles Review released today the ATSB says “the experts agreed that the previously defined indicative underwater area is unlikely to contain the missing aircraft between latitudes 36°S and 39.3°S along the 7th arc.

“The experts also agreed that CSIRO’s debris drift modelling results present strong evidence that the aircraft is most likely to be located to the north of the current indicative underwater search area. When considered together with updated flight path modelling, the experts concluded that an unsearched area between latitudes 33°S and 36°S along the 7th arc of approximately 25,000 km², has the highest probability of containing the wreckage of the aircraft.”

This new, and final area is shown in the diagram at the top of the page, within the narrower orange border.

The statement says “The participants of the First Principles Review were in agreement on the need to search [this] additional area…Based on the analysis to date, completion of this area would exhaust all prospective areas for the presence of MH370.”

The MH370 search partners have not formally declared that this new search will take place, and there has been no announcement of arrangements for the equipment and vessels that will be used, nor the provisional timetable for its conduct, which would like the current and previous searches, be subject to often wild and difficult to predict sea states.

MH370 was a Boeing 777-200ER with 239 people on board when it disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand on March 8, 2014, on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing as a Malaysia Airlines flight code shared with China Southern Airlines.

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6 comments

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6 thoughts on “New final MH370 search zone defined in latest ATSB study

  1. The hood

    Looks like it will never be found.

    1. Dan Dair

      Of course it will be found……..

      It’s just a question of time.?

      Ie. Whether it will be found during next years’ search,
      or whether it will be found in future decades.?

      It’ll turn-up eventually.
      Most of us
      AND of course the families of the dead,
      would rather that was sooner rather than later.?

  2. Mick Gilbert

    In what has to be right up there in the “Yes, Minister” stakes, on the topic of the First Principles Review recommendations, our Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, has said;
    “As agreed at the Tripartite Ministers meeting in Malaysia in July we will be suspending the search unless credible evidence is available that identifies the specific location of the aircraft.”
    On the basis that the objective of the search is to identify the specific location of the aircraft that’s all very circular.
    In other words, they’ll only approve the continuation of the search if it can be proven that the search doesn’t need to be continued.

  3. Roger Clifton

    Regardless of its prime objective, the search has bequeathed us an incredible dataset. What other ocean has such a window across its abyssal plains? The morphology of the ground will speak to geologists of how it formed. Oceanographers will be able to map the physical guides to seafloor currents. Marine ecologists will be able to sketch zones likely to contain niches for this or that ecology. All of the researchers will raise questions that deserve to be answered with experiments lowered into the depths and recovered a year later. I wonder if the Australian Research Council would consider funding an annual pickup-and-drop visit to the zone? I bet the Centre for Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University in WA would put their hand up for it !

    1. Dan Dair

      I agree with you.
      It’s a bloody expensive way of acquiring this information,
      but if there’s no good result for what the actual purpose was about,
      it would be nice to think that all that high-resolution survey data will get utilised by scientists in various fields of study.?

  4. cud chewer

    Judging by what the Minister has said, they’re giving up.
    I’d love to be convinced otherwise.

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