Plane search area ‘refined’

The search for the Malaysia Airlines’ flight that has been missing for three weeks has been moved almost 700 miles based on data showing the jet was traveling faster than investigators initially believed, officials with the company said Friday.

The revelation that the missing plane, flight 370, was traveling faster than previously expected meant it could not have flown as far as investigators initially believed because it would have been using more gas, the airline said. 

Malaysia Air said the information was gleamed during a re-examination of information that had been previously available to investigators who are involved in the multi-national search for the missing plane.

“Yesterday, this process yielded new results, which indicated that MH370 flew at a higher speed than previously thought, which in turn means it used more fuel and could not travel as far,” the airline said in a statement. “This information was passed to RCC Australia by the NTSB, to help further refine and narrow the search area.

“The Australian authorities have indicated that they have shifted the search area approximately 1,100 [kilometers] to the north east,” the Malaysia Air statement continued. “Because of ocean drift, this new search area could still be consistent with the potential objects identified by various satellite images over the past week.”

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is entering its third week. The plane, a Boeing 777 that was carrying 239 passengers, was last seen by air traffic controllers on March 8.

Investigators initially believed the Malaysia Airlines flight crashed into the Gulf of Thailand, which is where it is was located when its pilots lost contact with air traffic controllers. 

The pilots of the plane last had radio contact with air traffic controllers at the point in their flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing that they were expected to be switched over to Vietnamese flight towers. 

The search for the missing plane was later shifted to the Indian Ocean after investigators came to believe the jet was intentionally turned around and had continued flying for several hours after reversing course over Malaysia.

The search has been focused now on an area of the southern Indian Ocean that is near Australia after officials from that country, as well as France, China and Thailand, found satellite images they believed could be related to the Malaysia Airlines flight’s disappearance.

The investigation has been hampered by bad weather over the Indian Ocean this week however, making it hard to physically locate the images seen in satellite pictures.

The disappearance of flight 370 has gripped the U.S. and international aviation industries as officials struggle to explain how a large jetliner could vanish without a trace in mid-flight.

The U.S. has sent officials from agencies such as the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense to assist with the search for the missing plane.

The U.S. State Department has confirmed that at least three of the passengers who were on board the plane were American citizens.