New satellite images of possible MH370 debris show object possibly thousand miles away from eventual crash site

Search efforts are currently focusing in an area several thousand kilometers to the southwest of Australia and possibly well beyond MH370 endurance.

Fifteen days after MH370 vanished while enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, no new clues surfaced about the route the aircraft flew past the last known position on radial 295, 200 NM (Nautical Miles) to the northwest of Butterworth airbase.

However, search and rescue forces from 26 countries seem to be focusing on the southern route, rather than the northern one, as if there are details, still unknown to the general public, besides the last SATCOM ping at 08.11AM LT, that may have suggested the investigators to concentrate in the South Indian Ocean.

That part of the world is probably one of the most challenging for a search operation, an area characterized by strong winds and currents, were the ocean bed is between 3,000 and 5,000 meters deep.

On Mar. 18, Chinese satellites spotted possible debris within the 10,500 square nautical miles currently being investigated but the object 22.5 meters long and 13 meters wide was not found by the aircraft dispatched from Australian bases to patrol the area: it could have drifted some hundred miles away or may no longer being floating.

Still, what’s worth a note is the area where the various satellites and maritime patrol aircraft (including a P-8 Poseidon of the U.S. Navy) have been operating in the last few days. Based on the coordinates on China’s satellite imagery (44° 57′ 29” S 90° 13′ 43” E) the slice of Ocean being patrolled is located some 3,130 Nautical Miles from the last known point.


MH370 route
Image credit: Scott Henderson (



The aircraft was last seen on radars at 02:15AM LT near IGREX point. Let’s assume that it immediately turned southbound (something we should rule out since the aircraft would have overflown Indonesia).

When it disappeared from radars, it was flying at 475 Kts. At that cruise speed, it would cover between 2,850 and 3.087 nautical miles (6 hrs and 6,5 hrs) before running out of fuel.

The area where satellites are looking is some hundred miles farther. The aircraft alone could not cover about 5,800 km in 6 – 6.5 hours (that is considered the residual endurance of the Boeing 777 from the last radar contact position) because it would have to fly at a speed exceeding its maximum speed (thus reducing its range, that was calculated basing on the typical cruise speed).

Do investigators believe the pilot set autopilot/speed and altitude hold in such a way to cover a longer distance? Or do they believe the aircraft has crashed northern but pieces drifted towards the Southern Pole?

As said, ocean currents and wind can transport objects many miles away in a direction that may be difficult to predict. According to this interesting piece, by Accuweather, there’s a broad northward current that, theoretically, could bring some pieces closer to Western Australia.

All the articles about MH370 can be read here (scroll down).

MH370 southbound route


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. I was just wondering about possible causes and I am not sure if pressurization problem was seriously considered. I does not explain the communication systems failure but it could render the crew unconscious and allow the plane to continue flying on autopilot (like it happened to Helios flight). Maybe… last radio contact -> violent loss of pressure (maybe with structural damage resulting in comms failure) -> attempt to return -> hypoxia -> flight on autopilot for 6 hrs -> crash due to fuel starvation.

    Is it possible that explosive depressurization could damage some important wiring so that transponder, ACARS etc. stopped working?

      • I have a suspicion that the plane could have broken up over China never to be found again or that wherever it hit the ocean it went down hard and fast and left virtually nothing due to fire or other damages.

  2. It just keeps going sideways…….Did somebody doctor photo of men who took Flight MH370? Fears of a cover-up amid claims pictures show passengers with the same set of legs
    Both men pictured boarded missing Flight 370 with stolen passports
    Fears pictures were doctored as both of the men have the same legs
    Trousers, shoes, and shadows all identical, but upper bodies are different
    Chinese aircraft spots ‘suspicious objects’ in Indian Ocean

    More images of debris adrift in the Indian Ocean were released
    French satellite image taken 850km from current search zone
    Australia-led operation ‘clutching’ at any new information

    Search continues but so far no wreckage has been recovered

    Read more:
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  3. Zombie flight
    -an electrical incident involving electrical currents going where they were never intended.

    A serious fire on board: pilot took pulled up and (maybe accidently) blew the seals, venting
    (that’s what our buddy Mckay on the rig saw?) then descending much lower to denser atmosphere for ventilation with a flight deck of pure poison air – but too late to avoid the strains of too much smoke inhalation. Autopilot was how the pilots tried to deal with not being able to concentrate with poisonous fumes, but the poison won and they didn’t get a chance to finish their turn back to the southeast. They will probably find bodies who died by drowning, after the plane finally stalled on its last gasp of autopilot at an altitude of a few meters at a speed too slow to fly anymore.

    Hopefully this is just a horrible nightmare,
    (as it is, anyway, for the families – no matter what)
    and the passengers did not just sit outside a locked firewalled flight deck,
    waiting for six hours for an announcement from a couple of dead guys still strapped in the left and right seats…

    …Behind a door stupidly locked,
    at a moment incredibly too late,
    to protect against personalities
    who should never even be allowed on airplanes.

    • Yes, whatever the causes, it looks like a Zombie Flight. With pilots dead in the cockpit, behind an inpregnable locked door, passengers had about 6 hours of life before the plane ran out of fuel.
      There must have been desperate attempts to get into the cockpit. If a salvage operation is possible, the story could be told by recoverable audio and video on the passengers’ cell phones.
      This could even lead to a reconsideration of the concept of cockpit fortresses.

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