air crashes

Aug 17, 2017

Pressure mounts on distracted Turnbull Govt to resume MH370 search

Will the need for a resumed MH370 search get a 'look in' from an Australian government in crisis, even with long awaited new information on satellite imagery and drift analyses?

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

The complexity and residual uncertainty of drift analyses: ATSB

Pressure is being applied on two fronts to the Turnbull Government to re-open the search for missing flight MH370 just as it seems all but paralysed by the political and constitutional crisis caused by Australian parliamentarians holding dual nationalities.

Whether these campaigns to resume looking for the Malaysia Airlines 777-200 ER that disappeared while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014 with 239 people onboard are successful may well be determined by their perceived value as ‘circuit breakers’ from the risks to the survival of this Coalition government posed by this unrelated but over arching crisis.

The Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB) provides the time poor with this succinct notification of the progress made by Geoscience Australia in interpreting images of debris in the south Indian Ocean taken by a French military satellite on March 23, 2014, and a separate report by the CSIRO refining drift analysis it has carried out on debris from the jet recovered from westerly locations in that ocean.

In this latest notification ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood tactfully hoses down the blunter claims made in some media reports that the CSIRO has identified a precise location for the wreckage, yet one which his Minister for Infrastructure, Darren Chester has declined to endorse because it doesn’t guarantee that it identifies the location of the sunk wreckage of the jet with sufficient precision.

In fact the CSIRO analysis that first identified a new search prospect was published with implicit and unambiguous ATSB encouragement just before Christmas last year.

It was also rapidly rejected as a new search imperative by Minister Chester the same day, and this led to extensive discussion on Plane Talking in the following months and those detailed reports and discussions can be accessed using the MH370 search button on this site.

Coming over the top of these latest refinements, and the long sought release of more information from the French military satellite, is the offer by an American oceanographic exploration firm, Ocean Infinity, to launch a radically faster seabed search for an undisclosed fee paid only if it succeeds in finding the wreckage.

There has been no coherent nor official Yes/No response to this offer a ‘free’ resumption of searching from either the Australian or Malaysian authorities.

Ocean Infinity has put both countries on the spot, something which may not elicit the co-operation of the administrative branches which advise governments in both countries, and it is the Malaysians who actually make the calls when it comes to what the ATSB managed (suspended) search for MH370 actually does.

Public service culture is strongly media pressure resistant, and as the principal sources of information and advice to governments, they tend to double down on errors of judgment, in the interests of face saving, and sometimes with very undesirable policy outcomes.

While it is true that none of the French identified potential objects were identified or examined by the original AMSA search, or the later aerial and sea surface activities of the ATSB managed searches, it has long been argued that the ATSB was with hindsight too hasty in shifting its efforts to the north-east of the zone near where the satellite images were made.

That has been a controversial talking point since late March 2014, and reported as such on some news sites, including this one.

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10 comments

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10 thoughts on “Pressure mounts on distracted Turnbull Govt to resume MH370 search

  1. LongTimeObserver

    Ironically, La Reunion barely squeaks into the drift dispersion analysis.

  2. comet

    The cost of a new search for MH370 is probably about the same as the cost of the non-compulsory non-binding postal plebscite on marriage equality that MPs have vowed not to follow anyway.

  3. Giant Bird

    Australia should stand back and let China and Malaysia decide between them what is going to be done, when it is going to be done and how they are going to pay for it. They are the two governments with skin in the game, and whose populations are most affected. Any search relates to accident investigation not rescue.

    1. Dan Dair

      I really, really want to have a solid answer to this, irrespective of whether that answer fits-in with anything I want it to, or fits-in with anything I’ve argued against.?
      However, I completely agree with you that it is now essentially in the hands of China & Malaysia. It is no-longer a search & rescue mission, so it’s no-longer Australia’s responsibility.
      I would really like them to resolve this though.!

  4. Tango

    Now, where are the defenders of the big debris Field way to the South?

    As noted on many occasions, first information is often wrong.

    And waiting to do a good in depth analyses and get all available info is the right move.

    noting that there was no chance of survivors (though the air search was fully justified, at the very extreme ends of that possibility)

    Rather than rush to action again, this should be put in perspective, analyzed in depth, compared to existing fully and continue to see if there are other evidences that could come up.

    At this point the only reason I see to find it is to vindicated what I fully believe is the obvious.

    An while I would not tell Australia what to do, if it was my country, it would be, we have done beyond belief in endeavors , indeed we have gone far beyond any obligation under any stretch of the imagination and now its up to Malays (good luck( and China to fund this.

    1. Dan Dair

      Tango,
      If you can be bothered to read the link Ben highlights;
      it’s clear that analysis of the French satellite images has been consistent with the objects sighted being man made.
      Is is equally clear that these objects are aircraft components.?….. No.!
      Has anyone actually analysed these images to confirm whether or not they are aircraft parts.? No.!

      So it is possible that these images are not 9M-MRO,
      but there is also a totally UNDISPROVED possibility that the floating parts ARE actually from that lost aircraft.?

      It’s a possibility. It’s not a fact……
      If anyone had actually done the analysis of this information at any point I wouldn’t be asking this question because the answer would already be known…….
      But it actually isn’t known, because no-one has yet bothered to really look at the available data.?

      I wonder what the outcome will be once a group with the necessary analytical skills does that analysis.?
      Perhaps they’ll find it was all bits of wood & plastic pallets,
      whole & parts of shipping-containers
      and other associated debris.?
      But without proper analysis, how will we know if it was oceanic rubbish, or lost aircraft constituents.?

  5. Tango

    Interesting that MH370 comments are now very low.

    The far South Satellite spot is debunked. Maybe someone should grab random photos and see how much junk is floating around out there for the possible future?

    And Flight Global had a write up on it, basically my take, get the emotional baggage out of it.

    Pole had 45% of the responded say this required an immediate search not further analysis. Oh well, so much for paying attention.

  6. comet

    The Turnbull government will not do any more regarding MH370.

    It’s a government in chaos, turmoil, dysfunction and paralysis. It’s in its final death throes. It can’t do anything.

    Like it or not, for better or for worse, what this means is that the government will soon change – like a pendulum – back to the Labor side, and the unpopular Bill Shorten will become prime minister. Will ‘Mr Do Nothing’ Anthony Albanese resume his old roll as transport minister? Probably not. He had zero interest in doing that the last time and will probably look for a grander roll this time ’round.

    Will Shorten resume the MH370 search? I don’t know. But as a guess, looking at his personality, I predict he won’t.

    1. Tango

      Back to why would or should they?

      International obligations were taken to extremes.

      As often stated, continue to analyze and refine.

      I am fully selfish in this, I would like to see my evaluation proven.

      The funny part is come the next mystery it will all go aga ga again.

      1. Dan Dair

        Tango,
        I agree with the ‘why should they’ point. We’re way past ‘search & rescue’ which is actually where Australia’s obligations to the rest of the world lay.
        It’s now in the hands of Malaysia & China, so I’ll not be holding my breath….!

        I too would like my pet-theory proved,
        but to be honest,
        I’d be happy if it turned-out that the pilot did it after-all,
        so long as we had some genuinely solid evidence that this was actually, really the case.?

        I’d rather be unhappy with the result but know it as a fact,
        than continue to be frustrated by a lack of a genuine conclusion.!

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