It appears that the authorities are not sure if the data gathered in the nearly two-month hunt for the missing Malaysia jet, which projected the likely flight trajectory of MH370 shown by an arc, was a correct analysis after all.
An international panel of experts is in the process of re-examining all data gathered so far, in order to be sure if the international team has been looking for the missing plane in the right place, officials said on Tuesday.
Senior officials from Malaysia, Australia and China met in the Australian capital to discuss the next move in search for MH370, after two months of intense efforts in the southern Indian Ocean yielded no tangible results. The meeting hashed out details of plans for another search operation that could take up to a year to complete and will cost about A$60million - an amount that has raised quite a few eyebrows.
Now that the authorities are not even sure if the search operation thus far for the missing MH370 plane was taking place in the right place, it is likely to raise further questions from the family members of the passengers aboard, as well as the public.
Starting Wednesday, the data, which forced the massive international team to scour through more than 4.6 million square kilometers of the ocean in about 60 days from the day the MH370 flight went missing, will be re-examined, officials said.
"We've got to this stage of the process where it's very sensible to go back and have a look at all of the data that has been gathered, all of the analysis that has been done and make sure there's no flaws in it, the assumptions are right, the analysis is right and the deductions and conclusion are right," Angus Houston, head of the search operation, told reports in Canberra.
Investigators have been almost blindfolded by the lack of clear picture of what exactly had happened to MH370, ever since it went missing in the early hours of March 8, just an hour into its journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 people onboard. The massive search has been conducted based on an arc drawn after the UK satellite firm Inmarsat claimed missing aircraft had followed a particular flight trajectory, based on the 'pings' it received from the aircraft.
Following the initial data, the search location was shifted further upwards in the curve, after it was revealed that the Boeing 777 was travelling faster than previously thought, and had possibly consumed more fuel.
"Unfortunately, all of that effort has found nothing," Australian transport minister Warren Truss was quoted by the New Straits Times. "We've been confident on the basis of the information provided that the search area was the right one, but in practice, that confidence has not been converted into us discovering any trace of the aircraft."
Houston and Truss met with Malaysia's acting defense minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Chinese transport minister Yang Chuantang in Canberra on Tuesday and mapped out the next steps of the underwater search for MH370, which will now focus on a 60,000 square kilometer patch of seafloor.