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Flight MH370 Spiraled Into Sea When Fuel Ran Out: ATSB Report

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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went into a slow left turn and spiraled into the Indian Ocean when its fuel ran out, an interim report concluded Wednesday, pointing investigators towards the southern section the current search zone. Flight simulations recreating the final moments of the aircraft, which vanished March 8 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, suggest it entered “a descending spiraling low bank angle left turn” and hit the ocean “a relatively short distance after the last engine flameout,” the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) said in an update [PDF link].

The analysis confirms the jet crashed in “relatively close proximity” to the arc where investigators on Monday began a complex and exhaustive underwater search, the ATSB said. However, it said a “better understanding” of data from an unanswered ground-to-air satellite telephone call — details of which emerged in August — "indicate that the next, underwater, phase of the search should be prioritized further south within the wide search area.” It was not immediately clear if there would be changes to the underwater search plans, which were published Tuesday, but the report noted that "ongoing refinement may result in changes to search asset deployment.”

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- Alastair Jamieson

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