Families of MH370 passengers and crew gathered on March 4 for the Third Annual Remembrance Event of the disappearance. As part of the three-hour event, Dr Charitha Pattiaratchi, a Professor of Coastal Oceanography from the University of Western Australia, presented “The Utilisation of Ocean Drift Modeling Techniques to Locate MH370”. According to a story by aviation writer Geoffrey Thomas, Dr Pattiaratchi said that UWA’s reverse-drift modelling puts MH370 “at Longitude 96.5 E Latitude 32.5 S with a 40km radius”. This means his estimate is at the northern end of the new search zone recommended recently by the ATSB, which was between latitudes 32S and 36S, with a total area of 25,000 sq km, and with the highest probability at 35S latitude. Dr Pattiaratchi claims that UWA’s drift model is consistent with the recovery of 18 of the 22 pieces of debris found to date.
Also as part of the Remembrance Event was the announcement that Voice370, an advocate and support group for MH370 families, launched an effort to raise money to privately search for the aircraft. In a statement recently released, the group would like to search the “newly recommended 25,000 sq km”, which presumably is the same area recommended by the ATSB. The statement is careful to not cite the group’s fundraising goal, although in a previous Reuters story , Grace Nathan, daughter of MH370 passenger Anne Daisy, pegged the number at $15 million.
This blog is dedicated towards solving the mystery of the disappearance of MH370, and I fully support continued efforts to find the plane. However, I pose a simple question: “What level of confidence do we have today that the plane will be found in the 25,000 sq km of seabed now proposed?”
Updated on March 8, 2017
A recent interview with Dr Pattiaratchi appeared in The New Daily. Here is an excerpt from that article.
[Professor Pattiaratchi] claims the research gives authorities the “credible evidence” required to restart the search.
“That’s as good of information as you can get from an oceanography point of view.
“There is absolutely no doubt about the debris that has been found.”
The ATSB spent almost two years searching a 120,000sqkm area in the southern Indian Ocean for MH370, an area the UWA model predicted would prove fruitless.
“As soon as the flaperon (part of the aircraft’s wing) was found, we were saying it was unlikely that the plane went down in the search area at that time,” Professor Pattiaratchi said.
“The ATSB did not take into account the debris that was found. And despite the flaperon being found on [Reunion Island in] July 2015, it took them until November 2016 – almost 18 months – for them to acknowledge [MH370] is not [located] where they were searching.
It is true that the ATSB and DSTG did not incorporate drift modeling into their analyses until fairly late in the game, and Dr Pattiaratchi’s remarks are going to cause them some embarrassment. But we also have to ask ourselves: What part of the ATSB’s analysis was incorrect?