Missing Malaysia Airlines MH370: dramatic shift in search area

The search area for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has dramatically shifted, with efforts now to concentrate on a zone 1100 kilometres north-east of the previous location due to the “most credible lead” yet.

The new search area was calibrated after further analysis of radar data that indicated the aircraft was travelling faster than previously estimated, meaning it would have burnt fuel more quickly.

As a result, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has advised that the plane most likely didn't travel as far south into the Indian Ocean as previously estimated.

“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), Australia's investigation agency, has examined this advice and determined that this is the most credible lead to where debris may be located,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said

“The new information is based on continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost.

“The new search area is approximately 319,000 square kilometres and around 1850 kilometres west of Perth.”

Read the AMSA statement here

The new search area is four times larger than the 78,000 square km zone that was the focus of Thursday's search.

The shift in focus for investigators is surprising as it follows the release of new satellite images from French and Thai satellites that showed a large amount of debris moving progressively south of where a US satellite originally located debris - including some objects larger than 20 metres - almost two weeks ago.

The Australian-Geospatial Intelligence Organisation has re-tasked satellites to take images from the new search area, AMSA said.

Amid improving weather conditions, 10 aircraft and six ships were being sent to the new search area.

They include two Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orions, a Japanese Coast Guard jet, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea C130 Hercules, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion, a Chinese military Ilyushin IL-76, a United States Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft, and one civil jet acting as a communications relay.

A further RAAF P3 Orion has been placed on standby at Pearce to investigate any reported sightings.

As well as Australia's HMAS Success, there are five Chinese ships involved in the search.

The story Missing Malaysia Airlines MH370: dramatic shift in search area first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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