Joint Media Release: Search operation for Malaysia Airlines aircraft: Update 24

Friday 28 March 2014
The AMSA search for any sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been shifted to an area north following advice from the ATSB.
Media Release

Australian Maritime Safety Authority Emergency Response General Manager John Young.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan.

We would like to update you on some credible information AMSA has received from the ATSB which will see the search area refocused today.

An international air crash investigation team in Malaysia provided updated advice to the ATSB, which has examined the information and determined an area 1100 kilometres to the north east of the existing search area is now the most credible lead as to where debris may be located.

The new search area is approximately 319,000 square kilometres, about 1850 kilometres west of Perth.

The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO) is re-tasking satellites to capture images of the new area.

Weather conditions are better in the revised area and ten aircraft have been tasked for today's search.

They include two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orions, a Japanese Coast Guard Gulfstream 5 jet, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea C130 Hercules, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion, a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin IL-76, a United States Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft, and one civil Australian jet acting as a communications relay.

Four of the ten aircraft are overhead the search area, with a further six planes to fly over the area today.

A further RAAF P3 Orion has been placed on standby at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia (WA) to investigate any reported sightings.

Six ships are relocating to the new search area including HMAS Success and five Chinese ships.

Chinese Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) patrol ship, Haixun 01, is in the search area.

HMAS Success is expected to arrive in the search area late tomorrow night.

A US towed pinger locator and Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle have arrived in Perth to assist with location and recovery of the black box.

The depth of the water in the search area is between 2000 and 4000 metres.

These will be fitted to Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield which will arrive in WA in the coming days.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan:

The ATSB, as Australia's transport investigation agency, is working with a range of other international expert organisations to analyse available data and determine the best area to search.

The key pieces of information being analysed relate to early positional information from the aircraft and later polling of a satellite by an aircraft system.

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.

It indicated the plane was travelling faster than previously estimated, resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance it travelled south into the Indian Ocean.

The international investigative team supporting the search continues their analysis, which could still result in further refinement of the potential flight path.

This has been combined with information about the likely performance of the aircraft—such as speed and fuel consumption for example—to arrive at the best assessment of the area in which the aircraft is likely to have entered the water.

The information provided by the international investigative team is the most credible lead we currently have in the search of aircraft wreckage.

However, this information needs to be continually adjusted for the length of time elapsed since the aircraft went missing and the likely drift of any wreckage floating on the ocean surface.

Finally, let me stress that under international convention, Malaysia has investigative responsibility for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. At this stage, the ATSB's main task is to assist in the search for the aircraft.

*All times expressed in Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT).