How do you know MH370 is in the southern Indian Ocean?

All the evidence—based on independent analysis of satellite, radar and aircraft performance data from many international experts—indicates the aircraft entered the sea close to a long but narrow arc in the southern Indian Ocean. This arc has been the focus of the search efforts since late March. All future search operations will continue to take place in localised areas of the arc.

Why is the seventh satellite ‘handshake’ or arc so important?

The seventh handshake was the last communications MH370 had with the satellite.The signal was a logon request from the aircraft. This is consistent with the satellite communication equipment on the aircraft powering up following a power interruption. The interruption in electrical supply is highly likely to have been caused by fuel exhaustion. In other words, we are confident the seventh handshake represents the area where the aircraft ran out of fuel before entering the ocean.

Has the search been suspended?

No. The ATSB is leading the continuing underwater search for MH370.

The current phase of the search operation involves three major stages:

  • reviewing all existing information and analysis to define a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometres along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean
  • conducting a bathymetric survey to map the sea floor in the defined search area (underway)
  • contracting the specialist services required for a comprehensive search of the sea floor in that area (search to begin in August 2014).

How long will the current underwater search take?

It is expected that the underwater search of a defined 60,000 square kilometre zone will take up to 12 months to complete, although this will depend on such factors as weather conditions.

Who is analysing the satellite communications data? 

This work is being performed both independently and collaboratively by an international satellite communications group formed early in this search—this comprises staff from technical organisations and accident investigation agencies in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. This group is continuing to review and refine the satellite, radar and aircraft performance data to determine the most probable area where the aircraft entered the water.


Sources from ATSB