Missing Malaysia Plane: New Data Leads to Different Search Area

Co-pilot and Squadron Leader Brett McKenzie of the Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) P-3K2-Orion aircraft, helps to look for objects during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in flight over the Indian Ocean on April 13, 2014 off the coast of Perth, Australia.

Officials leading the now 110-day-old hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane moved to a new search area on Thursday, with hopes of narrowing in on the missing jetliner and the 239 people who were on board when in vanished in early March.

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning, Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan said the new search area is several hundred miles southwest of the most recent suspected crash site, about 1,100 miles off Australia's west coast. The renewed search is scheduled to begin in August and should take up to 12 months, depending on the weather.
MH370 Search Area

A map of the expected search area along the seventh arc.
The shift to a new search area was expected. Dolan said last week that the new zone would be south of an area where a remote-controlled underwater drone spent weeks fruitlessly combing 330 square miles of seabed. That search area was determined by a series of underwater sounds initially thought to have come from the plane's black boxes. But those signals are now widely believed to have come from some other source.
The new 23,000-square mile search area falls within a vast expanse of ocean that air crews have already scoured for floating debris to no avail. Officials have since called off the air search as any debris would likely have sunk long ago.
The hunt is now focused underwater.

‘The seventh arc’

The establishment of the new search area stems from the Australian government's refined analysis of satellite communications and aircraft performance — an analysis that led them to focus in on a so-called "seventh arc."
The 7th Arc

"The latest information and analysis confirms that MH370 will be found in close proximity to the arc set out in the map and labelled as the seventh arc," the ATSB announced earlier this month. "At the time MH370 reached this arc, the aircraft is considered to have exhausted its fuel and to have been descending. As a result, the aircraft is unlikely to be more than 20 NM (38 km) to the west or 30 NM (55 km) to the east of the arc."
The ATSB had said it would release more information as soon as it could be verified.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said on Thursday that the latest search area refinement had involved the efforts and expertise of specialists from around the world.
“Specialists have analyzed satellite communications information—information which was never initially intended to have the capability to track an aircraft—and performed extremely complex calculations,” Truss said.
“The new priority area is still focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite. We are now shifting our attention to an area further south along the arc based on these calculations."
The renewed search is scheduled to begin in August and should take up to 12 months, depending on the weather.

Wanted: Deep-water search specialists

The bureau announced on June 4 that it was seeking to acquire the services of a specialist company that is capable of conducting a deep-water search for the missing plane.

An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) sits on the wharf at naval base HMAS Stirling in Perth, Australia, ready to be fitted to the Australian warship Ocean Shield to aid in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, Sunday, March 30, 2014.
“Engaged as a prime contractor, the company will provide the expertise, equipment and vessel(s) necessary to undertake an intensified underwater search for the missing Boeing 777 aircraft in the defined zone in the southern Indian Ocean,” the bureau said.
“While the precise search zone is currently being established by an international search strategy working group, it is expected that the successful tenderer will search an area up to 60,000 square kilometres based on the 'seventh handshake' arc where the aircraft last communicated with the Inmarsat satellite.”
The solicitation period remains open for four more days through June 30.

Two ships already hard at work

The bureau, however, appears to be wasting no time.
Two commercial ships have already begun mapping the ocean floor ahead of the renewed search in an area approximately 500 miles southwest of the initial search area, according to publicly available satellite data.
Fugro Equador Ship

A screengrab of marinetraffic.com taken June 25, 2014 shows the ship Fugro Equador off the western coast of Australia.
One of the ships, the Fugro Equator, "has been assigned to an area consistent with the provisional results of our search area analysis," Dolan told The New York Times. Dolan said it was possible the mapping equipment could detect wreckage that may be lying on the seafloor, but that it was highly unlikely.
“The bathymetric survey has already commenced, with the Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhenand the Australian-contracted vessel Fugro Equator conducting operations in the areas provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau,” Truss said on Thursday.

Flying on autopilot

Investigators looking into the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane are confident it was on autopilot when it crashed in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean, Australian officials said Thursday as they announced the latest shift in the search for the jet.
After analyzing data exchanged between the plane and a satellite, officials believe Flight 370 was on autopilot the entire time it was flying across a vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean, based on the straight path it took, Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan said.
"Certainly for its path across the Indian Ocean, we are confident that the aircraft was operating on autopilot until it ran out of fuel," Dolan told reporters in Canberra, the nation's capital.
Asked whether the autopilot would have to be manually switched on, or whether it could have been activated automatically under a default setting, Dolan replied, "The basic assumption would be that if the autopilot is operational it's because it's been switched on."
But exactly why the autopilot would have been set on a flight path so far off course from the jet's destination of Beijing, and exactly when it was switched on remains unknown.
"We couldn't accurately, nor have we attempted to, fix the moment when it was put on autopilot," Transport Minister Truss said. "It will be a matter for the Malaysian-based investigation to look at precisely when it may have been put on autopilot."

No comments:


© 2012 Học Để ThiBlog tài liệu