In an announcement by our Prime Minister last night, the authorities have concluded that the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has ended in the southern area of the Indian Ocean. Given the location which was described as very remote and nowhere near any possible landing sites, they believed that the aircraft have perished in the said area together with all crew members and passengers on board.
This conclusion was based on a set of data from the UK-based global satellite company Inmarsat which was processed using a method that was described by the PM as “a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort”. As it turns out, the method is based on a physics principle called the Doppler effect.
Using the faint pings that the satellite received from the aircraft after the flight went missing from Malaysian civilian radar, this particular principle allows Inmarsat’s engineers to initially determine two predicted paths: one heading north and the other one heading south. These paths then became the focus of last week’s SAR operation.
Inmersat engineers decided to analyse the data once again and came out with a much more detailed Doppler effect models for both paths. This time, the analysis showed that the MH370 has taken the southern route after comparing those models with the trajectory of other aircraft that fly on the same route. The analysis was then passed to the investigators which led to the subsequent announcement by Malaysia’s PM last night.
Despite the major breakthrough, the story of MH370 is actually still far from over as the massive search and rescue operation has now turned into a recovery operation with an emphasis on the aircraft’s remains as well as its black box. Furthermore, the investigators still need to find out why the flight deviated from its original flight path and ended up in a remote area of the Indian Ocean.