Govt open to extending search for MH370 as Canberra hosts three-day summit on missing jet

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 2, 2016
A supplied image of ATSB investigators looking at a wing flap believed to be from MH370. (ATSB)
ATSB investigators looking at a wing flap believed to be from MH370. (ATSB)

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester says he is open to extending the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 if credible new evidence which leads to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft is found, as a new report suggests the aircraft entered into a steep descent before crashing into the Indian Ocean.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) latest report on the search, published on Wednesday, has detailed analysis of wing debris that investigators hope may provide more clues on the missing Boeing 777-200ER’s flightpath before it crashed in the Indian Ocean.

The report said the flap from the aircraft’s right wing was “most likely in the retracted position at the time it separated from the wing”.

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Further, the ATSB said the right flaperon was “probably at, or close to, the neutral position at the time it separated from the wing”.

The findings, alongside additional analysis of the satellite communications data was “consistent with the aircraft being in a high and increasing rate of descent at that time”, the ATSB said.

“Additionally, the wing flap debris analysis reduced the likelihood of end-of-flight scenarios involving flap deployment,” the report said.

The findings suggest it was unlikely the aircraft crashed into the ocean following a controlled rate of descent.

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The ATSB report also looked at drift analysis of the more than 20 pieces of debris that have been found since the Malaysia Airlines jet 9M-MRO carrying 239 passengers and crew lost contact with air traffic controllers en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing more than two years ago.

“Preliminary results of a drift analysis by Australia’s top scientific organisation, the CSIRO, also indicated it was unlikely that debris originated from the south of the current search area,” the ATSB report said.

“The northernmost simulated regions were also found to be less likely. Drift analysis work is ongoing and is expected to refine these results.”

The latest report can be read in full on the ATSB website.

The most recent ATSB operational update, published on October 26, said the entire 120,000 square kilometre search area was due to be completed by February 2017.

Canberra is hosting a First Principles Review Summit of the search, which will run from Wednesday to Friday and bring together Australian and international experts.

Chester, who opened the summit, said the gathering would review all the available data and analysis associated with the search so far, including the 20 odd items of debris that have been found off the coast of Africa since the aircraft disappeared in March 2014.

“The experts will also inform the remainder of the search effort, and develop guidance for any future search operations,” Chester said in a statement on Wednesday.

“A report detailing the findings of the review will be released after the meeting.

“Australia, Malaysia, and China continue to work together to find MH370. My thoughts, and the thoughts of all those involved in the summit, remain with the families and friends of the 239 passengers and crew.”

The Minister told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday decision made in relation to the search area were “not those for Australia alone”.

“It’s a tripartite agreement,” Chester said. “We work in partnership with the Malaysian and Chinese governments on these issues.

“Quite rightly, we will continue to explore every bit of information that’s available, and allow the experts from the ATSB in Australia, also the international experience, to inform our efforts.

“There was an agreement reached in July this year between the three nations involved to focus on and complete a 120,000 square kilometre search area, and in the absence of any further credible evidence leading to any specific location, the search would be suspended at that time. So that is the process we’ve undertaken.”

ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood said recently the search for MH370 was following up on some sonar “underwater contacts” with an autonomous underwater vehicle.

“We’ve got almost 50 of those underwater contacts where the deep tow sonar has said there’s something there, it looks man made but we don’t know what it is,” Hood told delegates at the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) national convention on October 21.

“Potentially we may have found the aircraft, but also potentially that underwater contact, they could be containers for example that have fallen off ships.”

14 Comments

  • Jaso

    says:

    I really don’t get how they still haven’t found the flight data recorder

  • Jason

    says:

    Maybe because they haven’t found the aircraft?

  • Gumshoe

    says:

    Let me get this right, Jaso. You have no problem with understanding how it is they haven’t yet located the actual aircraft… but you don’t get why they haven’t found the FDR? Er……

  • paul

    says:

    Pretty hard to grasp how they lost an airliner,but can spot an IED on the roadside in Iraq.

  • inherentchoice

    says:

    It’s actually more difficult than finding a needle in a hay warehouse.

  • paul

    says:

    Inherentchoice,not really mate.Im sure that the satellites that can find an IED on a roadside could or maybe know exactly where it is.Just a thought.

  • inherentchoice

    says:

    Paul, it doesn’t cost tens of millions to find a needle in a warehouse of hay. If it’s so easy to find the aircraft then you could have found it for us.

  • paul

    says:

    Inherentchoice,I for one don’t work with satellites.U would think they would know more than teir letting on.Open ur eyes mate.

  • The statement by Minister Chester is highly deficient when it comes to who is paying for this now waste of time.
    In the 2016-17 Federal Budget there was no allocation for expenditure beyond 30 June 2016, Financially Australia has done the financial and intellectual heavy lifting from Day 1 and at last report had expended $90m plus of course all the lost costs of ATSB and RAAF..
    Let’s get real! Even by a miracle if we identified the fuselage at up to 6,000 metres in depth it is highly;un likely that it wouldn’t be able to be raised in order to locate the flight recorders which by now would be heavily contaminated. There would be no bones or any identifiable DNA.
    What then are we really trying to achieve as the debris proves MH370 is in the Indian Ocean so what more do we have to prove?
    This is all about political appeasement of the Chinese who lost the majority of Pax on the aircraft. The search won’t bring bodies of Australians back and it is now an exercise to show how smart ATSB etc are..
    MH has been settled by the insurers, Allianz and the insurers are having no liability for salvage.
    If the Chinese and Malaysians want the search to continue let them pay all the Australian Government and third party costs.

  • Thomas Simpson

    says:

    An IED is not under 6000ft of sea water, and is probably within a few feet of a road. The MH370 can be anywhere in the 120,000 sq km search area, or even outside of it. Not really the same thing at all 🙂

  • paul

    says:

    Just my point exactly Thomas,surely they would of been tracking it before it hit the Sea.

  • rpaps5

    says:

    Paul,
    Contrary to popular conspiracy theory. “”They”” -whoever “”they”” are (or anyone else for that matter), don’t track airline flights in oceanic transit. There is NO radar coverage on the vast ocean distances, there are NOT geostationary satellites covering the earth’s oceans looking for a plane out of place.
    Oceanic flights – including up until today , have to rely on the actual aircraft reporting their position at regular intervals to ATC – currently done by HF radio.
    There are currently moves to mandate more regular/frequent position reporting to ATC and also there is a program trying to initiate satellite-based ADSb automatic position reporting covering oceanic routes, but this one is still a long way off yet.

  • Murray Howlett

    says:

    Neil Hansford,
    You may have reasonable objection to Australia paying for this but not knowing why MH370 crashed could have consequences for not only the Malaysians and Chinese. The Boeing 777 is a fairly popular aircraft widely used by many of different nationalities. What if another was lost in similar circumstances?

  • paul

    says:

    Rpaps5,I am not a conspiracy theorist,hence me on this website.You would think a plane of that size off route would have attracted something.Just a thought.

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