Drift tests show missing Malaysian jet probably crashed north of search area

Search for missing Malaysia Airlines

- Reuters picSYDNEY, April 21 ― A new ocean debris drift analysis shows missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 is most likely within a proposed expanded search area rejected by Australia and Malaysia in January, the Australian government's scientific agency said today.

Australia's transport minister said the new report has been given to Malaysian officials leading the investigation.

The CSIRO's results corroborate an early conclusion by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau that determined the crash site was likely between the latitudes 40°S and 30.5°S, which placed the crash site in a 9,600-square-mile area north of the original search area. Dr David Griffin, from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said: "Testing an actual flaperon [wing part] has added an extra level of assurance to the findings from our earlier drift modelling work".

This confirmed analysis from late previous year which had pinpointed the plane's location to the northern crash zone.

The December findings were based in part on drift analysis of six replicas of a piece of Flight 370 known as a flaperon which was found on Reunion Island in the west Indian Ocean in July 2015.

The original MH370 flaperon found on La Reunion is still being examined by the French judiciary. This flaperon was cut down to match photographs of MH370's flaperon, and then testing was done in the waters near Hobart.

The arrival of MH370's flaperon at La Reunion now made flawless sense, he said.

Malaysia Flight MH370 Remembered
AFP Getty Images

"We've found that an actual flaperon goes (drifts) about 20 degrees to the left, and faster than the replicas, as we thought it might", said Griffin. Extensive research was carried out to estimate how the flaperon's drift would be affected by wind and waves on the Indian Ocean.

"The arrival of MH370's flaperon at La Reunion in July 2015 now makes flawless sense", said CSIRO scientist David Griffin, adding that how the flaperon responded to wind, waves and ocean currents was crucial.

However, the transport ministers of Malaysia, China and Australia made a decision to suspend the search for MH370 until "credible new evidence" pointing to its precise location was found.

This search area comprises thin strips either side of the previously-searched strip close to the 7th arc. "The available evidence suggests that all other regions are unlikely", Griffin said.

The search for the Boeing 777 was suspended in January 2017.

For nearly three years, crews searched more than 46,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean for MH370.

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