Articles | Volume 14, issue 3
Research article
 | Highlight paper
04 Jun 2018
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 04 Jun 2018

Consideration of various aspects in a drift study of MH370 debris

Oleksandr Nesterov

Abstract. On 7 March 2014, a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft operated by Malaysian Airlines as MH370 on the route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing abruptly ceased all communications and disappeared with 239 people aboard, leaving its fate a mystery. The subsequent analysis of so-called satellite handshakes supplemented by military radar tracking has suggested that the aircraft ended up in the southern Indian Ocean. The eventual recovery of a number of fragments washed ashore in several countries has confirmed its crash. A number of drift studies were undertaken to assist in locating the crash site, mostly focusing either on the spatial distribution of the debris washed ashore or on the efficacy of the aerial search operation. A recent biochemical analysis of the barnacles attached to the flaperon (the first fragment found in La Réunion) has indicated that their growth likely began in water of 24 °C; then the temperature dropped to 18 °C, and then it rose up again to 25 °C. An attempt was made in the present study to take into consideration all these aspects. The analysis was conducted by means of numerical screening of 40 hypothetical locations of the crash site along the so-called seventh arc. Obtained results indicate the likelihood of the crash site to be located between 25.5 and 30.5° S, with the segment from 28 to 30° S being the most promising.

Short summary
To assist in establishing the most likely location of the crash site of MH370, a Boeing 777 aircraft that went missing on March 7, 2014, a drift study was conducted by means of numerical modelling. Three elements were considered: (a) the efficacy of the aerial search; (b) water temperatures along the path of the flaperon; (c) beached debris distribution. The results obtained indicate the crash site is likely located between 25.5° S and 30.5° S along the so-called seventh arc in the Indian Ocean.