Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Search Slowed Down by Disagreements, Report Says

November 25, 2014 Updated: November 25, 2014

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been bogged down by disagreements among the investigators overseeing it, according to a report.

These disagreements, as the Wall Street Journal reported this week, have made the already difficult operation more complex. The search, which resumed two months ago, is taking place in the Indian Ocean, and it has been hampered by weather and technical problems.

Five teams of experts involved in the investigation, including Boeing and the Australian military, have resulted in search vessels being deployed in two different areas in the southern Indian Ocean, which are hundreds of miles apart and overlap in some areas.

The chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Martin Dolan, said that searchers said around 80 percent of probable crash sites will be investigated before government money runs dry.

The Journal said that three of the groups of experts disagreed with the other two groups. There were different models of analyzing communications between the Inmarsat satellite and Flight 370; one model assumed the plane went on autopilot until it crashed after running out of fuel, and the other didn’t make any assumptions on how the plane was being piloted.

“Originally we thought we had a consensus among the five groups, based on the best data available at the time,” Dolan told the Journal. “Once we refined the data again the methodologies diverged.”

This map shows the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 search area. Over 6,900 square kilometres of the seafloor have been searched so far. (atsb.gov.au)
This map shows the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 search area. Over 6,900 square kilometres of the seafloor have been searched so far. (atsb.gov.au)

Last week, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau issued an update on its progress, saying the “Fugro Discovery departed the underwater search area on 18 November to transit to Fremantle for resupply. The vessel is expected to arrive on 23 November and depart again for the search area on 24 November.”

It added that nearly 7,000 square kilometers have been search so far.

Meanwhile, there’s been more controversy involving Malaysian authorities’ initial handling of the plane’s disappearance.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, said he doubts some of the facts about the plane’s disappearance.

“Personally I have the concern that we will treat it like that and move on, and it will go onto National Geographic as one of aviation’s great mysteries. We mustn’t allow this to happen,” he said, according to Airways News. “This aeroplane has disappeared without a trace. The public and the industry are questioning the lack of information and the cold hard logic of the disappearance of this and the factors that led to its disappearance.”

He believes that the aircraft’s control was taken.

“I think we need to know who was on this aeroplane in the detail that obviously some people do know, we need to know what was in the hold of the aeroplane, in the detail we need to know, in a transparent manner,” he added.

“So the notion by the Malaysians that the disappearance from the secondary radar and then the ability of the military to use primary radar to track the aeroplane and identify it as ‘friendly’ – I don’t know how they did that – is something we need to look at very carefully,” he continued.