As family members marked the grim, three-year anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370 on Wednesday, Western Australian researchers claim to know the location of the crash site.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) believe they have worked out the precise location of the missing Boeing 777, saying the plane is at the northern end of the last identified impact point, before the search was called off in January.
It comes after a US lawsuit, filed on behalf of the families of 44 people on board the missing plane, blamed manufacturer Boeing for the aircraft’s demise on March 8, 2014, with the deaths of all 239 people on board, including six Australians.
The UWA crash site has been plotted using a reverse-drift model, which successfully predicted where 18 of the 22 pieces of located Boeing 777 debris were found.
The model puts MH370 at Longitude 96.5 East, Latitude 32.5 South, within a 40km radius, UWA oceanography professor Charitha Pattiaratchi said, north of the 25,000 square kilometre search area identified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) last year.
The debris already located would not have been found if the model had not predicted the plane’s location, Professor Pattiaratchi told The New Daily.
He claims the research gives authorities the “credible evidence” required to restart the search.
“My information is based on the oceanography. So when authorities say ‘we want more concrete evidence’, from an oceanography point of view you can’t have more credible evidence,” he said.
“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.”
Boeing sued over plane malfunctions
A series of catastrophic malfunctions including electrical failures may have led to the aircraft’s demise, according to a lawsuit filed in the US.
The alleged faults cited included “defective and inadequately protected” wiring, the plane’s transponder stopping its transmission, defective avionics and communication systems in the cockpit, among others.
“The defects caused and/or allowed a massive and cascading sequence of electrical failures onboard the lost plane which disabled vital systems, including the lost plane’s ACARS and Mode S Transponder,” the lawsuit alleges.
The suit states the failures would have prevented the plane from being properly flown or communicating with the ground.
“Boeing elected to equip the lost plane with these ineffective ELTs (emergency locator transmitters) and ULBs (underwater locator beacons) despite the presence of other readily available and reasonable alternative technologies that would have allowed the lost plane, the FDR (flight data recorder), and the CVR (cockpit voice recorder) to be tracked in real-time anywhere in the world, especially in cases of crashes, disruption of communications and other losses,” it reads.
The lawsuit notes that search efforts for the plane have ended and says the lack of finality has led to unprecedented levels of “economic and non-economic losses, emotional and physical pain, distress and mental pain and suffering” for the people on the airliner and their families.
The lawsuit claims Boeing didn’t use available tracking technology on its 777 planes and that the company knew of the alleged design flaws.