Australian Officials: Malaysia Air Flight 370 Remained in Controlled Flight Until Running Out of Fuel
The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft will continue hundreds of miles southwest of the original location, after investigators who have been studying the available data determined that the plane was not damaged, and continued to fly in a controlled manner until it ran out of fuel.
The story, first reported in the New York Times on Monday, follows a reexamination of Malaysian radar data from the flight and a more detailed analysis of the aircraft’s communications with an Inmarsat satellite.
After the plane disappeared from radar screens, it continued to communicate with a satellite operated by Inmarsat on an hourly basis. Inmarsat developed a way of analyzing the difference between the frequency that the ground station expected to receive and the frequency that it actually recorded. The difference is due to the Doppler effect and is known as the Burst Frequency Offset.
The New York Times also reported that officials had discounted earlier reports about dramatic changes in altitude by the aircraft.
In terms of altitude, the radio data insofar is “unreliable” according to Angus Houston, who heads the Joint Agency Coordination Centre that is running the search, a sentiment echoed by Martin Doland, head of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
Last week, Australian authorities announced plans to move the search site to an area 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) off Perth, Australia. This followed a report in May in which officials said that the area of the Indian Ocean where the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner was believed to have crashed is not the right place.
Since Flight 370 disappeared in early March, search parties have been looking in various parts of the Indian Ocean to no avail.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)