Drift analysis says MH370 likely crashed north of search

Flight officer Gharazeddine looks out of a RAAF AP-3C Orion as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing flight MH370

Flight officer Gharazeddine looks out of a RAAF AP-3C Orion as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing flight MH370

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Analysis of a genuine Boeing 777 wing flap has reaffirmed experts' opinion that a missing Malaysian airliner most likely crashed north of an abandoned search area in the Indian Ocean, officials said Friday.

A A$200 million (€140.64 million) search for the aircraft, which went missing in 2014 with 239 people onboard, was suspended when the two nations rejected a recommendation to search north of the 120,000sq km area already canvassed, saying the new area was too imprecise.

David Griffin of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Csiro) said, "Testing an actual flaperon [wing part] has added an extra level of assurance to the findings from our earlier drift modelling work".

But relatives pleaded for the search to be extended following analysis by Australian and global experts released in December that concluded the aircraft was not in the search zone but may be further north.

The new research by the CSIRO involved releasing into the ocean off Tasmania replicas of the part of the wing called a flaperon which washed up on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion in July 2015, which was subsequently confirmed to be from MH370.

The scientists reached this conclusion by analysing drift modelling of a real part of a Boeing 777. "Those replicas had been made of wood and steel, and were created to float and behave like the original". The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States was able to assist in sourcing a genuine flaperon of the same model. France is conducting its own investigation and has not handed over the Reunion Island flaperon to the wider investigation.

'The arrival of MH370´s flaperon at La Reunion in July 2015 now makes ideal sense'.

"We add both together in our model to simulate the drift across the ocean, then compare the results with observations of where debris was and wasn't found, in order to deduce the location of the aircraft".

A woman looks at messages of support left for family members and passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur March 18, 2014.

This search area comprises thin strips either side of the previously-searched strip close to the 7th arc.

'We can not 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'.

It supported the December review's findings by a team of global and Australian experts who re-examined all the data used to define the original search zone that the wreckage was most likely within a 25,000-square kilometer (9,700-square mile) area on the northern boundary of the last search zone.