Tuesday, March 08, 2022

MH370: What happened to the plane that vanished into thin air?

Kuala Lumpur: On this day eight years ago, a passenger plane en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur went missing, along with the 239 people on board, never to be seen again.

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in 2014 has become one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in aviation history.

Over the years, scientists, journalists and others have dug deep for answers to how a Boeing 777 could have vanished, and why.

Today, they are no closer to the truth.

But a purported new lead has led to some calls for a new search.

British retiree Richard Godfrey said in December last year that he has calculated the coordinates of MH370's final resting place.

He believes the plane crashed some 2,000km west of Perth, Western Australia, in the Indian Ocean.

Mr Godfrey, a member of the MH370 Independent Group of scientists, researchers and individuals looking into the plane's disappearance, said he used data from the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) to determine the location.

It is a grid of radio signals which covers the globe and records anything disturbing or passing through the waves.

He said MH370 tripped off a series of radio signals before it disappeared.

Combining the WSPR details with other data such as satellite data and debris drift data, Mr Godfrey believes he now has the likely location.

Sharing his findings at a virtual MH370 remembrance event on Sunday, Mr Godfrey said the location is "around 33 degrees south and 95 degrees east in the Indian Ocean".

"We've searched that area before… it's very difficult terrain, very rugged. There are canyons and volcanoes, the ridges and cliffs. So it may have been missed," he said.

In a statement last month, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), while acknowledging that Mr Godfrey is a credible expert, said it had searched a "significant portion" of the area that he highlighted and had not found the wreckage.

But it said it requested that Geoscience Australia review the search data and "revalidate that no items of interest were detected in that area".

The Malaysian authorities said last month that if the new finding proved to be credible, they would consider discussions with China and Australia to launch a new search mission.

During the remembrance event, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said in a pre-recorded video: "Please let me reiterate the government of Malaysia's aspiration to locate MH370 has not been abandoned. We just need credible and actionable evidence to act on before we can mount an expedition which we are certain could yield results."

08/03/22 Hazlin Hassan/Straits Times

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