WSJ: MH370 report lacks details in explaining where plane could have gone down

Raw data from Inmarsat satellites were used to predict MH370’s possible flight path and experts are questioning why authorities failed to explain the key assumptions taken. — Reuters pic
Raw data from Inmarsat satellites were used to predict MH370’s possible flight path and experts are questioning why authorities failed to explain the key assumptions taken. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — Raw satellite data and other documents released by Malaysian and Australian authorities failed to explain key assumptions investigators used to establish search zones in the Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The report comes as a US Navy official said on CNN that the four acoustic pings at the centre of the search for the missing plane which disappeared on March 8, are no longer believed to be from the aircraft’s black boxes.

“We do not understand the report. We need an expert to explain it to us,” said Sahril Shaari, a cousin of Muhammad Razahan Zamani, who was on the flight, told the Wall Street Journal.

Released earlier this week, the 45 pages of satellite data were provided to the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) by satellite firm Inmarsat.

The WSJ report pointed out that there were some glaring omissions.

It alleged Australian and Malaysian authorities had failed to disclose important details concerning their assumptions about the speed and altitude of the missing jetliner.

The report also pointed out that Inmarsat left out specifics about its calculations.

Calculations on assumed speeds can dramatically affect where the Boeing 777 may have gone down and WSJ quoted air safety experts as saying that such variables could shift the most likely point of impact by up to hundreds of miles.

Yesterday a US Navy official cast more doubts about the likely location of Flight MH370 when he told CNN the four acoustic pings at the centre of the search were no longer believed to be from the aircraft’s black boxes.

Australian search authorities narrowed the search for the missing jet last month after picking up a series of pings near where analysis of satellite data put the last location of the Boeing 777, some 1,600 km off Australia’s northwest coast.

CNN said authorities now almost universally believe the pings did not come from the onboard data or cockpit voice recorders, but instead came from some other man-made source unrelated to the jetliner that disappeared on March 8, according to Michael Dean, the US Navy’s deputy director of ocean engineering.

“Our best theory at this point is that (the pings were) likely some sound produced by the ship ... or within the electronics of the Towed Pinger Locator,” Dean said.

The discovery of the pings on April 5 and 8 was hailed as a significant breakthrough but no further promising signals were heard before the expiry of the batteries on the black boxes’ locator beacons.

A scan of the area around the pings with an unnamed submarine failed to find any sign of wreckage and no debris linked to the plane has ever been picked up despite the most extensive and expensive search effort in aviation history.

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