Thursday, 27 March 2014

Searching For The Disappearance of MH370


Missing plane's black box 'chirps' to go silent by mid-April


This graphic shows the approximate position of around 122 objects - believed to be parts of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 - in the southern Indian Ocean. (AP)

Equipment inside two nearly indestructible boxes aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 recorded critical information that would help investigators reconstruct what went wrong. The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have beacons that are sending out ''pings'' which searchers could track back to the main wreckage. But the batteries run out in about two weeks. Satellite images show debris floating in the southern Indian Ocean, but search crews still have not confirmed it is from the plane. If they can do that, searchers will calculate where the bulk of the plane may have come to rest on the sea floor - and then go to that area and start listening for the pings.

ORANGE, NOT BLACK - They're commonly called black boxes, but the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder are actually orange - so they can be more easily seen. The data recorder logs performance and other metrics, including speed, altitude and direction. In all, it can keep 1,000 different measurements, giving investigators a rich cache of information. Those measurements cover the 25 hours prior to a crash. The voice recorder captures two hours of sound from several microphones in the cockpit. It runs on a continuous loop, so audio from the critical moments during which the plane diverted west from its Malaysia-China route - about seven hours before it is believed to have crashed - have been erased.

RACING TIME - Each recorder has its own beacon, bolted to the box's outside, which once activated by water emits a chirp every second. The chirp can't be heard by the naked ear - it requires special equipment to detect. A beacon's battery is designed to last 30 days. Once that month is up, the pings begin to fade in the same way that a flashlight with failing batteries begins to dim. According to Chuck Schofield of Dukane Seacom Inc., a company

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Tracking down black boxes a Herculean challenge


Picture taken on March 24, 2014 shows co-pilot, flying officer Marc Smith and crew of an RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft at low level in bad weather searching for missing Malaysia Airways flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean

Recovering the black boxes from the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed into the southern Indian Ocean is a Herculean task, even with the wealth of sophisticated equipment being deployed.

Any hope of finding survivors from the missing plane was extinguished on Monday when Malaysia's prime minister announced satellite data showed MH370's journey had "ended in the southern Indian Ocean" off the west coast of Australia.

Seventeen days after the Boeing 777 disappeared, distraught relatives were forced to accept what they had long feared - that the 239 passengers and crew on board were never coming home.

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Finding MH370 black box, wreckage could take years, says USA Today

The announcement last night that MH370 crashed into the Indian Ocean does little to solve the mystery of its disappearance, as aviation experts say it may take months or years to find the black box and wreckage, USA Today reported today.

It could also take years before an accident report was released with a probable cause, the report quoted experts as saying.

Analysis of satellite data was at a preliminary stage and the plane's wreckage and the recorders must be recovered before facts were established, former National Transportation Safety Board accident investigator Al Yurman was quoted as saying.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: US Navy to preposition black box locator

Rain was expected to hamper the hunt Monday for debris suspected of being from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as the United States prepared to move a specialized device that can locate black boxes into the south Indian Ocean region.

The U.S. Pacific command said it was sending a black box locator in case a debris field is located. The Towed Pinger Locator, which is pulled behind a vessel at slow speeds, has highly sensitive listening capability so that if the wreck site is located, it can hear the black box pinger down to a depth of about 20,000 feet (6,100 meters), Cmdr. Chris Budde, a U.S. Seventh Fleet operations officer, said in a statement.

"This movement is simply a prudent effort to preposition equipment and trained personnel closer to the search area so that if debris is found we will be able to respond as quickly as possible since the battery life of the black box's pinger is limited,'' Budde said.

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Mystery of MH370 ‘may never be solved’



Even if searchers are able to miraculously pluck Malaysia Airlines flight 370′s “black box” from the depths of the vast Indian Ocean, experts say it may not solve one of aviation’s greatest mysteries.

Planes, ships and state-of-the-art tracking equipment are hunting for any trace of the passenger jet, which Malaysia said crashed in the forbidding waters after veering far from its intended course.

They face a huge challenge locating the Boeing 777′s “black box”, which holds vital clues to determining what caused the plane to vanish after it took off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing on March 8.

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MH370: Most challenging phase of SAR, says Hishammuddin

The Search and Recovery (SAR) effort is now entering a new phase in the deep seas of the South Indian Sea which will require the most advanced technologies. The technology is only possessed by very few countries, said acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein in Parliament today.

"The search is at the most challenging phase now and we are in the midst of requesting for help from relevant countries.

"I am being optimistic, but I am still hoping against all odds that (they are safe) and I pledge continued SAR efforts until we find them," said Hishammuddin.


Satellite spots 122 possible objects in search

This graphic released by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, shows the approximate position of objects seen floating in the southern Indian Ocean in the search zone for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday that a satellite has captured images of 122 objects close to where three other satellites previously detected objects. AP

Malaysia says a satellite has captured images of 122 objects in the Indian Ocean that might be from the missing plane.

Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says the objects were seen close to where three other satellites previously detected objects.

He said Wednesday the sightings together are “the most credible lead that we have.”

related:


Satellite Finds 122 Objects In Search For Missing Malaysian Plane



A French satellite scanning the Indian Ocean for remnants of a missing jetliner found a possible plane debris field containing 122 objects, a top Malaysian official said Wednesday, calling it "the most credible lead that we have."

Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the objects were more than 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Australia, in the area where a desperate, multinational hunt has been going on since other satellites detected possible jet debris.

Clouds obscured the latest satellite images, but dozens of objects could be seen in the gaps, ranging in length from one meter (yard) to 23 meters (25 yards). Hishammuddin said some of them "appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials."


Search for MH370 resumes off Australia after weather improves



The search for the Malaysian airliner that disappeared 18 days ago resumed on Wednesday in the southern Indian Ocean, looking for debris that may unlock the mystery of why the plane ended up in frigid seas thousands of miles off course.


A dozen aircraft from Australia, the United States (US), China, Japan and South Korea will scour the seas some 2,500km south-west of Perth in the hunt for potential debris, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said. Bad weather on Tuesday forced the suspension of the search.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak this week confirmed that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

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Bad weather, rough seas force suspension of hunt for MH370 wreckage



The crew of one of two Chinese Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft used in the search for flight MH370 on the tarmac of Perth International Airport today. Australian search and rescue authorities say bad weather and rough seas had forced the suspension of the hunt for a Malaysian jetliner missing for more than two weeks. – Reuters pic, March 25, 2014

Bad weather and rough seas today forced the suspension of the search for any wreckage of a missing Malaysian jetliner that officials are now sure crashed in the remote Indian Ocean with the loss of all 239 people on board.

Citing ground-breaking satellite-data analysis by British firm Inmarsat, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said last night that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which vanished more than a fortnight ago while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had crashed thousands of kilometres away in the southern Indian Ocean.

Recovery of wreckage could unlock clues about why the plane had diverted so far off course. Investigators suspect a possible suicide, but have not found any sign of a motive.


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Missing plane search suspended

Bad weather has forced the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 to be suspended.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said gale-force winds, heavy rain and low cloud meant aircraft could not fly safely to the zone. Waves of 20ft or more had forced a navy ship from the area in the Indian Ocean being searched.

Several floating objects have been spotted that may be parts of the plane but that is yet to be confirmed. Recovering the wreckage of the jetliner could hold clues as to why it diverted hundreds of miles off course.


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New data expand search for Malaysian jet debris

Rain was expected to hamper the hunt Monday for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as a growing number of planes focus on an expanded area of the south Indian Ocean where French radar detected potential debris.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority's rescue coordination center said the search area was expanded from 59,000 to 68,500 square kilometers (22,800-26,400 square miles) on Monday, including a new separate area covered by data provided by France on Sunday.

Two Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 planes joined the search from Perth on Monday, increasing the number of aircraft from eight on Sunday to 10, AMSA said.

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Bad weather halts search for flight MH370



Australian officials say the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has been suspended because of bad weather and rough seas.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said high winds and rain meant planes could not fly safely.

Earlier, China demanded to see satellite data that led Malaysia to conclude that flight MH370 had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.


Flight 370: Rough seas force search to be called off

The hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been called off for the day due to bad weather conditions.

In a statement the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) says the search area is forecast to experience strong gale force winds of up to 80km/h, periods of heavy rain, and low cloud with a ceiling between 200 and 500 feet.

It says that could make for hazardous conditions for search crews.



What we know, and still don't, on missing Malaysia Airlines plane

A summary of the questions answered, and still pending, about the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's on Monday announcement. WHAT WE KNOW

THE PLANE CRASHED: Najib said satellite data showed the flight "ended in the southern Indian Ocean," confirming that the Boeing 777 that disappeared more than two weeks ago went down in a remote corner of the ocean, "far from any possible landing sites."

ITS LAST POSITION: A British company calculated satellite data obtained from the remote area of the ocean, using analysis never before used in an aviation investigation of this kind, and pinpointed the last spot the flight was seen in the air was in the middle of the ocean west of Perth, Australia.

NO SURVIVORS: Najib left little doubt that all 239 crew and passengers had perished in the crash; the father of an aviation engineer on the flight said, "we accept the news of the tragedy. It is fate."



A mystery like no other – we may never know what happened to MH370


The data recorder details the aircraft’s path and other mechanical information for the flight’s duration, and “should provide a wealth of information”, US-based aviation consultancy firm Leeham Co said in a commentary.

But the cockpit voice recorder — which could reveal what decisions were made by those at the helm and why — retains only the last two hours of conversations before the plane’s demise.

That means potentially crucial exchanges surrounding the initial diversion, which took place halfway between Malaysia and Vietnam, will be lost.


Malaysia missing plane: Answers demanded

British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat has confirmed to Malaysia that flight MH370 was surely lost in the southern Indian Ocean, south-west of Australia. The BBC's science correspondent, Jonathan Amos, explains the cutting-edge methods in the search here.

Were there any missed opportunities to track flight MH370? Doug McClean, a former senior manager at the air traffic control service NATS, told the BBC that when the plane left Malaysian airspace it failed to contact Vietnam, but no one seemed to notice.

"When the airplane doesn't establish

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After the traumatic news, time to answer questions on MH370 mystery

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced last night that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was lost at a remote location in the middle of the Indian Ocean, possibly ending weeks of speculations as to the plane's final stop.

That did not, however, answer several key questions which have been lurking ever since the Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8, sparking what aviation experts call the most mysterious plane tragedy in history.

Britain's Daily Mirror looks at five questions still begging for answers.

related: Finding MH370 black box, wreckage could take years, says USA Today



'We're still trying to define where the haystack is'


Malaysian officials have stopped looking for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 everywhere except a remote portion of the southern Indian Ocean and have convened an international working group to pinpoint precisely where it went down, the country's acting transportation minister said Tuesday

Even the Indian Ocean search was on hold Tuesday, however, as rough weather made it impossible to dispatch search aircraft to the region some 1,500 miles west of Perth, Australia. It will be at least Wednesday before the search resumes, Australian officials said.

Authorities cautioned that despite the narrowing the search area, it could still be some time before crews find any sign of the airplane, which vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard.

"We're not searching for a needle in a haystack," Mark Binskin, vice chief of the Australian Defence Force, told reporters. "We're still trying to define where the haystack is."

related: The deep sea robot search for 370

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How Malaysia came to the conclusion MH370 has crashed into the sea



Malaysia on Tuesday released details on how an analysis of satellite data came to the conclusion that the missing Malaysia Airlines has ended up in the southern Indian Ocean. We look at how this was done

How an aircraft communicates via satellite
- An aircraft is able to communicate with ground stations via satellite.
- If the ground station has not heard from an aircraft for an hour it will transmit a "log on/log off" message, sometimes referred to as a "ping", using the aircraft's unique identifier.
- If the aircraft receives its unique identifier, it returns a short message indicating that it is still logged on. This process has been described as a "handshake" and takes place automatically.


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Malaysia releases satellite analysis by UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch



On 13 March we received information from UK satellite company Inmarsat indicating that routine automatic communications between one of its satellites and the aircraft could be used to determine several possible flight paths.

Inmarsat UK has continued to refine this analysis and yesterday the AAIB presented its most recent findings, which indicate that the aircraft flew along the southern corridor.

As you have heard, an aircraft is able to communicate with ground stations via satellite.


Salvage of MH370 extremely difficult, academics say

The search for the wreckage of MH370 in the Indian Ocean has been described as the "worst nightmare" for any rescue operation.

University Teknologi Malaysia professor for hydrography and ocean mapping Dr Mohd Razali Mahmud said the region was isolated with high waves, swift under currents and strong winds.

"Some of the waves can be as high as 5m, and this will be a huge challenge for any salvage operation," Dr Mohd, who is from the Faculty of Geo-Information and Real Estate said on Tuesday.


How MH370's trajectory was traced to the southern arc


Their conclusions were based on research using the Doppler effect - a theory named after the Austrian physicst Christian Doppler who proposed that frequency of a sound wave emitted from an object changes relative to its distance from an observer

In case of the missing plane, the aircraft had reportedly sent six "pings" to the Inmarsat satellite over the course of six hours when it flew undetected over the ocean with its transponders switched off. The pings - termed as handshakes - were sent from the in-built antenna of the Boeing aircraft to one of the 10 Inmarsat satellites. The satellite was sending hourly "polling signals" to the Boeing 777, which as long as it was operating, sent back acknowledgement signals. The pings stopped after the sixth hour.

Engineers determined the "Doppler shift" - which means they calculated the ever so slight changes in the ping frequencies, caused due to the movement of the aircraft relative to the satellite.

The teams compared equivalent data from flights of other Boeing Co. 777 jets in and out of the area to see where the Doppler effect would result in a pattern that matched the data from Flight MH370.



How Can Math Decide That Someone Is Dead?


A U.K.-based satellite company, Inmarsat, has deployed a new kind of mathematical analysis to determine the plane’s trajectory

For the relatives of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the announcement by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday must have registered as a double shock. First there was the fact that their loved ones were dead: “The past few weeks have been heartbreaking; I know this news must be harder still,” Najib said at a press conference after families were notified. More surprisingly, the announcement was made even though no bodies or wreckage had been recovered. Instead, the passengers’ fate had been determined by math alone. A U.K.-based satellite company, Inmarsat, had deployed a new kind of mathematical analysis to determine that the plane’s trajectory had carried it deep into the southern Indian Ocean, a region where there are were no landmasses upon which a plane can set down. Ergo, the passengers were all dead.

In Beijing, family members reacted with outrage, staging an impromptu march on the Malaysian embassy. One can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be told to abandon hope, to grieve in the absence of any material evidence of loss. They must have wondered if they could really believe what they were being told. Unreliable information has been reported throughout the search process, with assertions made about the flight only to be later refuted, modified, or quietly dropped. Amid all the uncertainty, how much credence should be given to this new mathematical formula, which seemed so complicated that hardly anyone could understand and whose underlying data remains veiled in secrecy?


That’s what I wondered when I heard the news, but after reviewing Inmarsat’s publicly released information with an expert, I’ve come to the conclusion that its findings are most likely sound. With caveats.

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The need for a royal probe into MH370’s mysterious disappearance


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (centre) leaving a press conference last night after announcing that flight MH370 was in the southern Indian Ocean, killing all 239 people on board. Malaysia must now order a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the incident. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, March 25, 2014

Malaysia mourned flight MH370 last night when it was proved that the Malaysia Airlines jet with 239 people on board ended up in the Indian Ocean after it went missing on the way to Beijing on March 8.

As Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak put it succinctly, it had been a heart-breaking few weeks after the Boeing 777-200ER (9M-MRO) vanished.

Perhaps this is the time for grieving and reflection on what has been dubbed as an "unprecedented aviation mystery" that has transfixed the world the past 17 days.

related: China demands Malaysia provide information on missing plane

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MH370 Lost in Indian Ocean: Investigate thoroughly, Najib tells police



Datuk Seri Najib Razak has called on the police to carry out a thorough and detailed investigation into the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, for the sake of the families involved.

The prime minister said the police had a responsibility to provide answers even though it faced the great challenge of conducting its probe without recovering the plane's flight data recorders. "This a huge, heartbreaking tragedy.

"We may never get all the answers unless we succeed in retrieving the black boxes, but we need to carry out a full investigation because the families (of MH370 passengers and crew) need answers.


Malaysia says jet crashed in sea; China wants evidence

Co-Pilot Flying Officer Marc Smith and crewmen fly at high altitude aboard a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion aircraft after searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean (reuters tickers)

Malaysia said on Monday that a missing jetliner had crashed into the Indian Ocean, an announcement that was greeted with hysteria by Chinese relatives of those on board and a demand by China that Kuala Lumpur share all the evidence it had on the incident.

Citing groundbreaking satellite-data analysis by the British company Inmarsat, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished more than a fortnight ago while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean.

His statement may go some way toward tamping down some of the more fevered speculation about the plane's fate, including one theory some grief-stricken relatives had seized on: that the plane had been hijacked and forced to land somewhere.


China demands Malaysia hand over MH370 satellite data

China has demanded that Malaysia hand over the satellite data which led to its judgement Monday that missing flight MH370 crashed at sea and that none on board survived.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told relatives Monday that the flight "ended in the southern Indian Ocean" after new analysis of satellite data on the airliner's path placed its last position in remote waters off Australia's west coast.

In a meeting late Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng asked Malaysia's Ambassador to China, Iskandar Bin Sarudin, to provide the "detailed evidence" that led to the conclusion, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.


China demands info after Najib's tragic news


The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 enters the 18th day but for the first time today investigators have conclusively narrowed the search to the southern Indian Ocean.

Last night ended on a dramatic note after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak revealed evidence the went down in the Indian Ocean while MAS told family members that it is assumed "beyond reasonable doubt" none survived.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday personally informed Najib on sightings of two objects at a search area some 2,500km southwest of Perth and all eyes is on the search operation which will attempt to retrieve the objects for confirmation if it is indeed debris from the ill-fated flight.


Malaysia does not intend to hide information on MH370, says PM Najib


Malaysia has no intention of hiding information on Flight MH370 from families and the authorities, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Tuesday.

"Our priority, after confirming that the incident happened in the Indian Ocean, is to focus in this area," Mr Najib told Parliament.

He added that the black box is the only way to find the answers as to what happened to the Malaysia Airlines aircraft, adding that "no theories can be substantiated yet".

related:

Malaysia's major dailies mourn loss of MH370
Bad weather halts air and sea search for MH370: Amsa
US deploys 'black box' locator in Malaysian jet search

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CNN's Richard Quest defends handling of MH370 case by Malaysian government



CNN's aviation and airline correspondent Richard Quest has defended the Malaysian government's handling of the MH370 case, calling the incident "unprecedented".

In a series of tweets from his account @RichardQuest, the news presenter said that while mistakes had been made, the circumstances were unique.

"Mistakes have been made in the investigation #MH370 by the Malaysians to be sure BUT this incident is unprecedented," he tweeted.


China’s Role in Search Brings Its Own Headaches

With 153 Chinese that were on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now assumed lost, the role of China in what is set to shift to a salvage effort is bound to remain intense. However, its participation in the multinational mission isn’t without its complications.

At an Australian air force base outside the western city of Perth, two Chinese air force IL-76 long-range transport planes and their crews are unusual guests.

The manner of their arrival here Saturday, on a mission to help look for the missing flight, hinted at how seldom China’s airmen venture this far south. They initially landed in the wrong place, at Perth Airport, rather than Pearce Air Force Base, their actual destination 26 miles, or 42 kilometers, to the north.


Malaysia's jet crash announcement draws criticism


Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) delivers his statement on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 while Malaysian Minister of Defence and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (R) looks on

Malaysia drew criticism on Tuesday for its announcement that a missing passenger jet had been lost at sea, even before any wreckage was found.

A sombre Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished more than two weeks ago with 239 people on board, had "ended in the southern Indian Ocean".

He cited fresh satellite tracking data and said the information was being shared "out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles which have guided this investigation".


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Confirmed: MH370 went down in Indian Ocean



After 17 days of extensive search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, authorities have finally concluded that the aircraft can only be in the southern region of the Indian Ocean

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak revealed this tonight in a hastily convened press conference at Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur.


Najib said the confirmation is based on "a type of analysis never before used" on Inmarsat's satellite data.


"Based on the new analysis (from) Inmarsat and (UK's) AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Branch) that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.


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related:
Zero Days To Locate Black Box of MH370
Search For Mystery Of MH370 Continues
Searching For The Disappearance of MH370
Flight MH370 Ended In The Southern Indian Ocean
Flight MH370: What's Known And What's Speculation
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Goes Missing
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