New research by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau suggests the aircraft was in an uncontrolled dive before plunging into the ocean. Much of the plane and the flight recorder have not been found.
More than two years after Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, a new report by the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) suggests the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean, rather than gliding towards the water with a pilot in control, as one engineering group had theorized.
In a report that was released Wednesday, the ATSB said wing flap debris showed the airplane was not configured for landing. "It was probably in a non-extended position which means the aircraft wasn't configured for a landing or a ditching," said ATSB search director Peter Foley. "You can draw your own conclusions as to whether that means someone was in control or not."
Foley said the wing flap had "enhanced certainty" as to what happened. Also in the report, satellite communications from the aircraft showed it was in a "high and increasing rate of descent" when it vanished off the radar screen. This is commonly known as a death dive.
The report confirmed the investigators' theorythat the Boeing 777 was not under control when it plunged into the Indian Ocean.
This evidence goes against the theory developed by engineering group Fugro, the company leading the search, which postulated that the aircraft may have glided into the ocean. The claim was significant because, if true, it could markedly increase the size of the already vast area salvage workers are scouring for debris.
Despite searching for the aircraft taking over two years, only some scattered debris has been found on shores surrounding the Indian Ocean. Crews expect to finish their search of the 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile, or roughly the land mass of Greece) search zone by early next year. There are no plans to extend the search unless new evidence suggests a specific area where the aircraft may be located. It is already the most expensive aviation-related search in history.
Including crew and passengers, 239 people were on board the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it went missing on March 8, 2014.
kbd/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters)