Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane most likely found in deepest, remotest Indian Ocean

Mar 20 2014, 18:42 IST
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Father of one of the passengers on Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane speaks to media in Putrajaya. (AP) Father of one of the passengers on Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane speaks to media in Putrajaya. (AP)
SummaryAircraft and ships ploughed through dire weather in search of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

for MH370," he told parliament.

The dimensions of the objects given are consistent with at least one of them possibly being the major part of a 777-200ER wing, which is around 27 metres (89 feet) long, though Australian officials cautioned the first images were indistinct.

The relatively large size of the objects would suggest that, if they do come from the missing aircraft, it was largely intact when it went into the water.

If the plane had run out of fuel, it would not necessarily have plummeted but its behaviour would have depended on whether there was someone in control and their intentions, pilots said.

Modern aircraft are designed to use the rush of wind to drive a small emergency turbine that keeps hydraulics and some electrical power running if the engines run out of fuel.

If the debris is from the plane, investigators would face a daunting task to retrieve the "black box" data and voice recorders needed to help understand what caused the disaster.

University of Western Australia Professor of Oceanography Charitha Pattiaratchi said that, based on currents in the area, if the debris is from the plane it probably would have entered the water around 300-400 km (180-250 miles) to the west.

The search area covered an ocean ridge known as Naturalist Plateau, a large sea shelf about 3,500 metres (9,800 feet) deep, Pattiaratchi said. The plateau is about 250 km (150 miles) wide by 400 km (250 miles) long, and the area around it is close to 5,000 metres (16,400 feet) deep.

"Whichever way you go, it's deep," Pattiaratchi said.

Investigators piecing together patchy data from military radar and satellites believe that, minutes after its identifying transponder was switched off as it crossed the Gulf of Thailand, the plane turned sharply west, re-crossing the Malay Peninsula and following an established route towards India.

What happened next is unclear, but faint electronic "pings" picked up by one commercial satellite suggest the aircraft flew on for at least six hours. That would be consistent with the plane ending up in the southern Indian Ocean.

The methodical shutdown of the communications systems, together with the fact that the plane appeared to be following a planned course after turning back, has focused particular attention on the pilot and co-pilot.

The FBI is helping Malaysian authorities analyse data from a flight simulator belonging to the captain of the missing plane, after initial examination showed some data logs had been deleted early last month.

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