Investigators searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took a new look at data where they believe the missing Boeing 777-200 may have crashed into the Indian Ocean, the search team announced Friday, saying that the new information forced them to expand the already massive search area by more than 15,400 square miles.
That's about 3,000 square miles bigger than the entire state of Maryland.
The three vessels searching for the mysteriously vanished Flight MH370 have already combed more than 77,000 square miles of previously unexplored ocean floor more than two miles below the stormy surface of the Indian Ocean — and found no trace of the Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished seemingly into thin air on March 8 about an hour into an otherwise routine overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
That original search zone is bigger than the state of Nebraska.
While the search has found not a scrap that could be connected to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the effort has resulted in extensive mapping of the ocean floor that, until now, has been one of Earth's last unexplored areas. A video released Friday by the Australia Transport Safety Bureau, the agency leading the Flight MH370 search, shows a "fly through" view of the underwater terrain. That video can be seen, above.
The investigators previously believed that the plane took a hard left turn over the South China Sea, then flew for about seven hours and thousands of miles off course, finally running out of fuel and plunging in a tight spiral into the Indian Ocean.
But the new look at the small amount of data they have has now forced investigators to reconsider at least the last part of their proposed scenario. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 77, they now say, may have spiraled more slowly than they thought.
"It's possible that the descent wasn't in quite such a tight circle as we are assessing," Martin Dolan, ATSB chief, admitted.The searchers thought that they had finished defining the prime search area, where they believe Flight MH370 most likely came down, back on October 26. But more than a month later, they say they may have been wrong, and they expanded the zone by about 25 percent.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared more than nine months ago. In the history of commercial aviation, while other planes have gone missing, none have stayed missing as long as Flight MH370 without even a single sliver of evidence turning up.