Australia opposed to resuming search for missing MH370 aircraft

French police officers carry a piece of debris from a plane in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island.
Credit: AP/French police officers carry a piece of debris from a plane in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island.

Australia has signalled it opposes resuming the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 aircraft, despite the nation’s science agency saying fresh analysis makes it increasingly confident of the whereabouts of the plane.

In a move that is likely to place pressure on Australia, Malaysia and China to resume the hunt, Australia’s CSIRO said it has all but confirmed that the plane is in a 9,653 square-mile zone north of the original search zone in the Indian Ocean.

Families of the 239 passengers and crew who were on the missing plane have been demanding the three nations reverse their decision earlier this year to suspend the search.

Credit: Reuters

The CSIRO has conducted fresh analysis of the likely drift route of a flaperon, or wing part, across the Indian Ocean. The analysis followed the discovery of a flaperon from MH370 on Reunion Island.

Instead of using a replica flaperon – as was done in an earlier analysis – the scientists obtained a used Boeing 777 flaperon and then replicated the damage that was found on the MH370 wreckage.

The subsequent drift analysis found the Boeing flaperon was faster and veered 20 degrees to the left of the models used earlier. This confirmed analysis from late last year which had pinpointed the plane’s location to the northern crash zone.

"Testing an actual flaperon has added an extra level of assurance to the findings from our earlier drift modelling work," said Dr David Griffin, from the CSIRO.

"We cannot be absolutely certain, but that is where all the evidence we have points us, and this new work leaves us more confident in our findings.”

Credit: PA

Using wind and current speeds, and the likely angle of the piece in the water, the scientists said the proposed zone was "very consistent with the July 2015 arrival time on [Reunion Island]".

In January, authorities from Malaysia, China and Australia called an end to the search after a painstaking operation which covered a  46,000 square-mile zone in the southern Indian Ocean. 

No trace of the plane was found, though numerous pieces of debris have washed up off the coast of south-east Africa.

The authorities agreed to halt the search but said they would resume it if “credible evidence” emerged.

Darren Chester, Australia’s transport minister, said the new analysis did not appear to constitute new evidence.