THE hunt for the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has shifted dramatically to the north of the existing search zone in the Indian Ocean west of Australia.
New radar data has surfaced, prompting authorities to refocus on an area 1,100 kilometres to the northeast of the current search zone.
New information suggests the plane was travelling faster than first thought, which means it would have used more fuel and not made it as far south as initially estimated.
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The new are of interest, now approximately 1,850 kilometres west of Perth, is shallower than the last with water depths ranging from 2000 to 4000 metres.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority emergency response manager John Young said all planes and ships have been diverted to sweep the new zone, which is around 319,000 square kilometres in size.
“The AMSA search for any sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been shifted to an area north following advice from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau,” Mr Young said.
“An international air crash investigation team in Malaysia provided updated advice to the ATSB, which has examined the information and determined an area 1100 kilometres to the north east of the existing search area is now the most credible lead as to where debris may be located.
“The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO) is re-tasking satellites to capture images of the new area,” he said.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan said the new information provided by the international investigative team was the most credible lead to date.
It comes after Thailand’s Space Technology Agency released satellite imagery showing 300 potential pieces of debris in the search zone.
Mr Young said the weather conditions were better in the new area of focus with ten aircraft tasked for Friday’s search.
They included two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orions, a Japanese Coast Guard Gulfstream 5 jet, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea C130 Hercules, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin IL-76, a United States Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft, and one civil Australian jet acting as a communications relay.
A further RAAF P3 Orion has been placed on standby at RAAF Base Pearce in WA to investigate any reported sightings.
Six ships are also relocating to the new zone, including the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) patrol ship, Haixun 01, which was in the search area on Friday afternoon and HMAS Success which is expected to arrive in the search area late Saturday.
A US towed pinger locator and Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle have also arrived in Perth to assist with locating and retrieving the black box.