The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the Boeing 777-200 that vanished seemingly into thin air on March 8 with 239 human beings on board, was set to resume Wednesday off the coast of Australia. But now an independent group of experts is warning the searchers that they are looking in the wrong place.
In an additional twist, if a controversial theory in a recent book by yet another team of freelance investigators is correct, both the official searchers and the independent group would be wrong in their theories of where in the Indian Ocean the Malaysia Airlines flight went down.
The Australian Transportation Safety Board, the agency now in charge of the Flight MH370 search effort, believes that the plane went down somewhere in the 350-nautical-mile long stretch of sea defined by the yellow rectangle in the above map.
Experts Say Flight MH370 Went Down 600 Miles South Of Search Area
The stretch is part of the “Seventh Arc,” the final flight path investigators believe the Malaysia Airlines plane took over the Indian Ocean, based on “pings” sent between the missing plane and a satellite as Flight MH370 sailed thousands of miles off of its original Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing route.
In its eight-page report, a team that includes satellite expert Tim Farrar, astronomer Duncan Steel and science journalist Jeffery Wise and calling itself “The Independent Group,” warns the ATSB that the plane more likely hit the water nearly 600 miles south of that yellow rectangle.
The Independent Group says that its analysis shows the plane plummeting toward the ocean at about 180 miles per hour just before hitting the water. But the plane, the experts say, was in a tight spiral no more than a single nautical mile across.
“The occurrence of a near-vertical spiral dive has significant implications in reducing the width of the target search area,” the group wrote. “We argue that the aircraft could not have flown far beyond the seventh arc before crashing into the ocean, if it went beyond that arc at all.”
The group of independent experts puts the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crash site about 1,600 miles southwest of Perth, Australia, “further to the south than any of the currently announced potential search areas,” the group wrote.
That area remains within the wide search area covered by the search for Flight MH370 earlier this year, a search that turned up nothing.
Book Authors Say Both Flight MH370 Crash Theories Are Wrong
But both the Independent Group and the ATSB based their analysis on the assumption the Malaysia Airlines 777 was flying at a standard speed and altitude when it began its descent into the Indian Ocean.
If a theory put forth by the authors of the recent book Goodnight Malaysian 370 is correct, however, the plane would have been depressurized and likely flying at a lower height and slower speed, putting the location of its downing in yet a different section of the Indian Ocean.
The two authors of the book, one of whom is a former head of New Zealand’s Kiwi Airlines, believe that pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately depressurized the plane, killing the passengers and crew, then flew over the Indian Ocean and landed the plane on the surface of the water, letting it sink intact to the bottom — a theory that would account for the lack of wreckage and debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.