Australia Decides Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Can't Be In Their Southern Indian Ocean Search Area
Looks like the whereabouts of the missing Malaysian Airline plane are still a mystery. Despite releasing a satellite data report earlier this week that confirmed the crash site, officials in Australia have "discounted" the ongoing Indian Ocean search area of Flight 370. A statement released by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said the large patch of the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of western Australia, where search officials have been spending most of their time, is not the plane's final resting place. Calling the operation complete, officials are now taking the search operation back to square one.
"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has advised that the search in the vicinity of the acoustic detections can now be considered complete and in its professional judgment, the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370," the JACC statement said.
However, authorities are not at a complete loss just yet. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told Australian parliament Thursday that the search agency is "confident" Flight 370 is in the southern Indian Ocean.
Search officials were led to believe the missing Malaysia Airlines plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean after raw data from an Inmarsat satellite revealed the aircraft made "electronic handshakes" — automated pings — with the satellite for six hours after it disappeared from the radar. After weeks of pleas and demands from family members of the passengers, Inmarsat released the 47-page satellite data report on Monday.
But it looks like those automated pings aren't what officials thought they were. Although officials initially confirmed the pings came from the aircraft's black box recorder, it's now believed the pings are unrelated to Flight 370. Instead, officials say they came from another man-made source, such as a ship. The data released by Inmarsat is still being analyzed.
Flight 370 vanished the morning of March 8 after losing contact with air traffic control just an hour after takeoff from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The plane, which had 239 passengers onboard, was en route to Beijing. It's last-known location was in the Gulf of Thailand, at which point the aircraft turned west and headed off course.
Although satellites and search crews have spotted suspicious debris floating in the southern Indian Ocean, wreckage from Flight 370 has yet to be found.