#MH370 search areas in perspective

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A graphic which puts the changing search areas for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 into a clearer context has been produced by Scantherma, an Australian remote sensing and thermal imagery company commissioned by a global insurance company to find debris from the missing Boeing 777-200ER.


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Credit: Scantherma

The area, which is located around 1,150 miles west of Perth, straddles a more northerly section of the Inmarsat 3-F1 40-degree arc which originally drove investigators to hunt for the missing aircraft in the Southern Indian Ocean.  Earlier search zones are marked in yellow, while the black strips are areas which contained debris and were analyzed by Scantherma using ‘object-based image analysis’ techniques to distinguish between random sea flotsam (like crates and debris from spilled containers), actual containers themselves and white caps. Further analysis of some earlier satellite imagery which purported to show fields of debris now appear to show white specs were, in fact, breaking waves in the rough seas of the ‘roaring forties’.

Orange areas are new search zones being analyzed by the company. The red area is the newly allocated search zone designated by the Australian maritime safety authority AMSA after further evaluation of earlier radar tracking data showed the 777 was flying close to Mach 0.86-0.87. This is considered the top speed of the 777 – Mmo (maximum Mach operating speed) is Mach 0.87 – beyond which overspeed warning occurs.

Meanwhile Australian-based aviation website Airline Ratings reports that authorities in the country are pushing for Perth to become the center for the investigation when, or if, wreckage is located. Referring to reports in The West Australian, the site also says an unusual diplomatic note has been issued to all countries involved in the search reminding them that if they are to find any pieces of the aircraft they are obliged under international law to hand the material over to the search authority. The move comes amidst continuing criticism of Malaysia’s handling of the investigation, and rising tensions between Malaysia and China which, with 153 nationals aboard, suffered the largest single loss of citizens.

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