The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) said it believed that the likely resting place of the Boeing 777-200ER, which disappeared in March 2014 with the loss of all 239 passengers and crew, was to the northeast of the 120,000 sq km area exhaustively searched by Australian, Malaysian and Chinese vessels.
The new report’s findings support conclusions of an earlier review of the evidence that the most likely location of MH370 is 35.6 degrees south, 92.8 degrees east.
The aircraft had been on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it reversed course westward across Malaysia, then headed southwest into the remote ocean west of Australia.
The two-year search was called off in January 2017, having found no trace of the missing aircraft. Months after the crash, several items of wreckage—now confirmed to have come from the missing aircraft—washed up on Indian Ocean islands and the coast of East Africa.
Evidence was pieced together by CSIRO scientists, combining a re-examination of satellite imagery of the region taken in the early days of the search, together with new, refined models of drift patterns in that region. An important refinement was the use of an actual Boeing 777 flaperon, similar to that found washed up on the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion.
In its latest report, produced for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the CSIRO said, “Many objects of interest were seen in several of these [satellite] images from a wide range of locations at the time, but none led to any successful recoveries. Four of these images … have recently been carefully re-examined. Three of these images contained 9, 2 and 1 object(s), respectively, that were classified as “probably man-made” as well as 28 “possibly man-made” objects.
“The dimensions of these objects are comparable with some of the debris items that have washed up on African beaches. But there is no evidence to confirm that any of these objects (let alone all) are pieces of 9M-MRO [the aircraft flying as MH370].”
David Griffin from the CSIRO said the new report featured data and analysis from ocean testing of an actual Boeing 777 flaperon.
“Testing an actual flaperon has added an extra level of assurance to the findings from our earlier drift modeling work,” Griffin said.
“Earlier drift modeling was conducted using replicas of the flaperon found on La Réunion Island. Those replicas had been made of wood and steel, and were designed to float and behave like the original.”
The original MH370 flaperon found on La Réunion is still being examined by the French judiciary. The US National Transportation Safety Board was able to assist in sourcing a flaperon of the same model.
“We wanted to see if the genuine flaperon drifted straight downwind like the replicas, or off at an angle, and at what speed through the water,” Griffin said.
“We’ve found that an actual flaperon goes about 20 degrees to the left, and faster than the replicas, as we thought it might. The arrival of MH370’s flaperon at La Réunion in July 2015 now makes perfect sense.”
“We cannot be absolutely certain, but that is where all the evidence we have points us, and this new work leaves us more confident in our findings,” Griffin said.