SYDNEY (AP) — An international panel of experts will re-examine all data gathered in the nearly two-month hunt for the missing Malaysia jet to ensure search crews who have been scouring a desolate patch of ocean for the plane have been looking in the right place, officials said Monday.
Senior officials from Malaysia, Australia and China met in the Australian capital to hash out the details of the next steps in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which will center on an expanded patch of seafloor in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia. The area became the focus of the hunt after a team of analysts calculated the plane’s likeliest flight path based on satellite and radar data.
Starting Wednesday, that data will be re-analyzed and combined with all information gathered thus far in the search, which hasn’t turned up a single piece of debris despite crews scouring more than 4.6 million square kilometers (1.8 million square miles) of ocean.
“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 conclusions are right,” Angus Houston, head of the search operation, told reporters in Canberra.
Investigators have been stymied by a lack of hard data since the plane vanished on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A weekslong search for surface debris was called off last week after officials determined any wreckage that may have been floating has likely sunk.
“Unfortunately, all of that effort has found nothing,” Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss said. “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.”