On Friday, June 20, news reports indicated that, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the on-going search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will move to an new area approximately five hundred miles to the south of what was most recently thought to be the suspected crash site. The prior search focused on an area of the Indian Ocean where noises, though to be pings from the plane’s black box, were heard. Australian authorities, however, have recently ruled out this location and the source of those noises remains unknown. On Thursday, June 26, Australian officials announced the location and details of the new search. They also announced their theory of what happened.
The new search zone is reported tied to, among other data, the final satellite communication by the plane, the aircraft’s performance limits, and the aircraft’s final known movements. The search remains along the arc where the last communication occurred between the aircraft and a satellite, but it is now farther south on that arc. The aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 people aboard after veering off its planned course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. So far, the massive, multi-national search for the plane has yielded nothing.
The current theory from the Australians is that the passengers and crew were incapacitated, probably due to a lack of oxygen, before the plane ran out of fuel and crashed. Australian officials have also stated their belief that someone on board the plane intentionally turned on the plane’s autopilot system after the plane veered off course and turned back toward the Indian Ocean. Investigators previously theorized that someone intentionally disabled the satellite messaging system, which turned off the plane’s transponders. All of this is, of course, wild speculation given the complete lack of an aircraft to examine.
Malaysia Airlines’ most recent statement on its website, on June 15, came at the 100 day mark since the disappearance. It extended its thoughts and prayers to the families and reaffirmed its efforts to find out what happened.