The Malaysian government cited new satellite evidence that indicates the missing airliner crashed into the Indian Ocean. Officials presented this information in a definitive way and notified the families of the passengers that there were no survivors. But mysteries remain.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday that missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went down in the southern Indian Ocean, effectively dashing hopes that the plane might have survived a still unexplained diversion from its flight path more than two weeks ago.
Reading from a prepared statement, Najib said new information from satellite data showed that the plane’s last location was “in the middle of the Indian Ocean west of Perth,” a city on Australia’s west coast.
“This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” Najib said solemnly. “It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.” . . .
Najib said the new information on the fate of the aircraft came from Britain’s Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) and the British Inmarsat satellite communications company, which previously had provided data indicating that Flight MH370 took either a northern or southern route after diverting from its flight path.
Najib said that after making further calculations and “using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort,” Inmarsat had essentially eliminated the northern route and “concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor.” . . .
Najib’s announcement raised the question of why British, American or Malaysian authorities could not have reached the same conclusion more quickly from the Inmarsat data — a succession of hourly electronic “handshakes” between the plane and a satellite — which the company began analyzing within a day or two of the plane’s disappearance. . . .
“We are able to say over a number of hours that the plane was at a fairly constant altitude,” McLaughlin said. “We have assumed, with guidance from Boeing, a speed of about 350 knots, which would be the automatic pilot speed. And we have assumed the range based on what Malaysians say the plane was fueled up for, plus a safety margin.” He said he could not tell whether the plane varied its speed or altitude during its flight, but he expressed confidence that ships and aircraft involved in the search are now “looking in the right area.”
The statements from Najib and the airline came after observers on a Chinese search plane on Monday spotted some “suspicious objects” in the southern Indian Ocean — two large floating objects and many smaller white ones.