A group of independent experts believes the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is hundreds of miles southwest of the current search area — and has urged authorities to expand the hunt from its current zone.
Ten engineers and consultants, including five based in the United States, put their name Tuesday to an analysis that places the missing Boeing 777 approximately 800 miles away from where ‘pings’ — assumed to be from its ‘black box’ data recorder — were detected in May.
The pings prompted a fruitless air and sea search of a 300-square mile are 1,000 miles off the northwest coast of the Australia. That search finally ended without success on May 28 when authorities concluded that the ping zone was not the “final resting place of MH370.”
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Official investigators said Wednesday that they would soon reveal the new search area for MH370, based on the latest analysis of satellite data that appears to show the jet’s final hours over the southern Indian Ocean.
An expert with British satellite firm Inmarsat told a BBC documentary on Tuesday night that its analysis suggested the ping zone was not far enough southwest.
“It was by no means an unrealistic location but it was further to the northeast than our area of highest probability," the company's Chris Ashton told the BBC’s “Horizon” program.
However, the independent experts said their analysis of data made available by Malaysia authorities suggested a zone even further to the southwest.
“While there remain a number of uncertainties and some disagreements as to the interpretation of aspects of the data, our best estimates of a location of the aircraft [is in a] cluster in the Indian Ocean near 36.02S, 88.57E,” the 10 experts said in a statement. “This location is consistent with an average ground speed of approximately 470 kts and the wind conditions at the time. We recommend that the search for MH370 be focused in this area.”
The statement, issued to coincide with the broadcast of “Horizon” program, described the experts as “an informal group of people with diverse technical backgrounds.”
It includes Tim Farrer, president of California-based consulting and research firm Telecom Media & Finance Associates, Duncan Steel, a New Zealand-based physicist, space scientist and writer and Mike Exner, chairman of the board of Colorado-based Radiometrics Corporation.
— Alastair Jamieson