INVESTIGATORS now think missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 turned south a little sooner than first thought, but they are still focusing their attention on the search area off the West Australian coast.
Federal Transport Minister Warren Truss provided the update, after signing a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai in Canberra.
The Deputy Prime Minister said more research had been done in trying to trace the unsuccessful phone call Malaysia Airlines ground staff made to the plane when it disappeared from radar back in March.
“Some work has been done in endeavouring to map the position of the aircraft when a failed satellite telephone conversation was attempted between Malaysia Airlines on the ground and the aircraft.
“That has suggested to us that the aircraft may have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected.”
Still searching ... MH370 may have turned south earlier. Picture: ThinkstockSource: ThinkStock
Mr Truss said “the search area” remains the same, but further refinement of satellite data has revealed areas to the south may be of “particular interest and priority”.
Malaysia’s Transport Minister said his country would be splitting the cost of the tender for the deep underwater search with Australia.
Last month the government announced Dutch company Fugro was awarded a contract to scour the ocean floor for wreckage.
The operation, which is due to begin next month, is expected to take a year and cost $52 million.
Search vessels used ... the Phoenix International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Artemis was used by Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield in the search for MH370.Source: Supplied
Minister Lai expressed his “sincere gratitude” to Australia for its leadership in trying to locate the plane.
He said Malaysia had already pledged about $15 million and will “match the Australia in the tender cost”.
More than 87,000 square kilometres of the search area have already been surveyed.
Mr Truss noted some areas that have so far been mapped, have “quite dramatic” terrain, including volcanoes.
Mystery continues ... one expert believes Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah staged a controlled ditching of the plane into the Indian Ocean.Source: NewsComAu
“In some places, one place in particular, near the broken ridge, the sea depth is as little as 600 metres and then falls away in just a very short distance to 6,600 metres. So there is very, very deep water in the area,” he said.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members when it disappeared in the early hours of March 8 this year. There were six Australian nationals on the plane at the time. -news.com.au