Expert: Search for MH370 not becoming more complicated

An expert says the MH370 search is not becoming more complicated as the search and rescue team was looking in the wrong area. — Reuters pic
An expert says the MH370 search is not becoming more complicated as the search and rescue team was looking in the wrong area. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 ― An expert has said that the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, flight MH370 is not becoming more complicated and that the search and rescue (SAR) team was looking in the wrong area.

New Zealand-based space scientist and physicist, Duncan Steel, made the remarks in an email interview with Bernama following the latest announcement by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which discounted the vicinity of acoustic signals detected previously.

“They were never leads (the claimed acoustic detections). Having discounted them is a good thing, in that it enables other possibilities to be considered,” said Steel, who is also a visiting Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham, England and a space scientist at NASA-Ames Research Centre in California, USA.

According to him, the sonic pings in the Indian Ocean were obviously (to a physicist) not from the MH370 emergency locator beacon and that ATSB's announcement was entirely disconnected from the satellite-derived information.

He believed that based on available information from the released raw data, it was most likely that the aircraft headed south at near 500 knots, and ended up much further south than the current search area.

Steel lauded British satellite telecommunications company, Inmarsat for doing a good job of pulling out the data and analysing it, noting that the Inmarsat analysis was good.

“However, that does not mean I am sure they are correct, because we have not been given vital information about the composition of the BFOs (Burst Frequency Offsets) and the modelling that Inmarsat performed.

“If we had those information, we could check on what was done, to verify it or possibly find errors,” he explained. 

Steel suggested that at least some consideration should be given to the northern corridor until the possibilities could absolutely rule it out.

“For example, someone should go and take a look at the suggested crash site in the Besh Tash Valley (Kyrgyzstan), which was indicated by a smoke plume just when the aircraft would have been expected to have crashed. In reality, that might be only a one-in-1,000 possibility, but why not go take a look so as to exclude it?”

Meanwhile, former Malaysia Airlines chief pilot, Datuk Captain Nik Ahmad Huzlan Nik Hussain said he had no reason to disbelieve the analysis and calculations done by UK's Inmarsat and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) following ATSB's announcement.

“The calculations based on the Inmarsat data were verified by the United States' National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), AAIB, Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), and the Perth-based Joint Action Coordination Centre (JACC),” he told Bernama.

He said all of those bodies, apart from DCA and NTSB, could be considered external bodies with almost no direct interest and they all agreed with the findings.

Nik Ahmad Huzlan also noted that these calculations were also verified by local experts familiar with the field of satellite communications from a technical angle.

“However, there are margins of error caused by utilisation of assumptions, which may result in the widening of the search area,” he cautioned. ― Bernama

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