Bombshell claim in MH370 search

Researchers have revealed what could be the final resting place of flight MH370.
Researchers have revealed what could be the final resting place of flight MH370.

One of aviation's greatest mysteries might soon be solved after researchers revealed what could be the final resting place of flight MH370.

The Malaysia Airlines aeroplane disappeared about 38 minutes after leaving Kuala Lumpur airport en route to Beijing on March 8, 2014.

Despite a frantic search by governments and private companies, the plane was never found and the fate of its 237 passengers remains unknown.

A 229-page report released on Wednesday now suggests the missing wreckage could be located about 1560km west of Perth.

Estimated MH370 flight path, with the island of Sumatra in the top right. Picture: Supplied
Estimated MH370 flight path, with the island of Sumatra in the top right. Picture: Supplied

The revelation comes thanks to “groundbreaking” amateur radio technology known as a weak signal propagation reporter or WSPR.

Researchers Richard Godfrey, Dr Hannes Coetzee, and Professor Simon Maskell used WSPR to help detect and track the plane’s flight path.

“This technology has been developed over the past three years and the results represent credible new evidence,” the researchers stated.

“It aligns with analyses by Boeing (...) and drift analyses by University of Western Australia of debris recovered around the Indian Ocean.”

When an aircraft flies through an amateur radio signal, or WSPR link, it disturbs the signals – records of which are stored in a global database.

The study used 125 of these disturbance to help track the plane’s path for more than six hours after one of its last radio contacts about 6pm.

Despite a frantic search, the plane was never found. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Combined with Boeing data, Inmarsat satellites, and drift analysis, it presents a “significant muitlidiscipliany outcome”: the same crash site.

“Together with (the data), a comprehensive picture of the final hours of flight MH370 can be collated,” the researchers said.

“Flight MH370 was diverted into the Indian Ocean where it crashed of fuel exhaustion (...) at some point after the last signal after midnight.

“At the time of writing, MH37- still has not been found despite extensive surface and underwater searches.

“About 10 million commercial passengers fly every day and the safety of the airline industry relies on finding the cause of every accident.”

Dr Westphal first proposed using WSPR to track MH370 in July 2020 following similar proposals in a NATO paper in 2016 for other aircraft.

At a depth of 4000m, the new location posited by the scientists is slightly north from previous estimates by researchers and investigators.

Just less than half of the 130km by 89km area now proposed by researchers to be the possible crash site has been searched.

While the report offers a lifeline for families who after more than nine years are still looking for answers, it is not without limitations.

Aviation expert Geoff Thomas told the Today show on Friday that he was hopeful about the report but admitted it had faced pushback.

“There has been some criticism, but this report has been peer reviewed,” Mr Thomas said.

“A scientist from the University of Liverpool and the ocean company who did the search in 2018 will use it as a basis for a new search.

“There is a very high level of confidence. It has been four years in the making, being reviewed over and over again.

“They (the researchers) are certain that they have located where this aircraft is.”

The disappearance marked a grim milestone for Malaysia Airlines and aviation, only months before MH17 was shot down over Ukraine.

Proposed search area on Google Maps. Picture: Supplied
Proposed search area on Google Maps. Picture: Supplied

MH370 departed Malaysia shortly before 5pm with 12 crew and 227 passengers from 14 nations, including 153 people from China.

About 5.20pm, Captain Zahrie Shah responded to Malaysia air traffic control, stating: “ Ho Chi Minh (...) good night.”

Shocking, the plane soon after went “dark” before diverting back over Malaysia, the opposite direction from the intended flight path.

Primary civilian and military radar data reported the plane travelling back over the Malacca Strait and into the vast Indian Ocean.

After about 7.5 hours, MH370 ran out of fuel and subsequently crashed 11 minutes later into the ocean, and was never found.

Debris of the plane was found as far away as Madagascar in the years following, with 41 one pieces in total recovered.

Ocean Infinity, a marine robotics company, for years searched for the plane and in March 2022 began looking again on a no-find, no-fee basis.

Mr Thomas told host Sarah Abo that 120 books had been written about MH370, but the families of the passengers had backed the report.

Previous search area covered by Ocean Infinity in 2018. Picture: Supplied
Previous search area covered by Ocean Infinity in 2018. Picture: Supplied

He said the findings would be presented to the Malaysian government, with the details of the report dedicated to the passengers’ families.

The prolonged mystery provided inspiration for multiple conspiracy theories owing to the plane’s strange flight pattern before disappearing.

Speculation about the reason for the strange detour run the gamut from terrorist hi-jacking or that it was for some reason captured by the US.

Allegations, disputed heavily by US authorities such as the FBI, claim the plane was flown under instruction to a remote island or atoll.

Other claims circulated around Captain Shah’s family and whether the plane was purposefully ditched into the Indian Ocean.

In 2018, senior Boeing 777 pilot and instructor Simon Hardy claimed on 60 Minutes that the crash was the result of a “murder-suicide”.

Mr Hardy sighted claims that the plane had allegedly avoided military radar on the Thai-Malay border; the claim has never been substainiated.

The possibility of a fire, a cyber attack, or that the plane has been shot down have all been posited, but fail to credible answer the mystery.