The missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 descended rapidly before crashing and finally plunging into the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board, Australian officials announced on Wednesday.
In a new report, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which leads the search in the Indian Ocean,said that the plane was not in a configuration for landing when it crashed, Efe news reported.
The study was based on satellite data, analysis of the various debris found, including a flaperon wing part, and analysis on where the various aircraft parts were found.
According to the ATSB’s report, the additional satellite data from the aircraft “was consistent with it being in a high and increasing rate of descent” prior to crashing.
It also reported that the additional analysis of wing flap debris showed that the aircraft was not configured for a landing.
The findings support the official investigation which said that the plane would have descended after running out of fuel.
According to this research, MH370 disappeared 40 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing after someone shut off the aircraft’s communication systems and had been in control of the plane.
“(It) means the aircraft wasn’t configured for a landing or a ditching – you can draw your own conclusions as to whether that means someone was in control,” the bureau’s director of Flight 370 search operations Peter Foley said.
The report added that MH370 crashed somewhere in the “seventh arc”, the Indian Ocean region where the search operation is currently carried out, which was determined from signals generated by the aircraft, data from satellites and a ground station in Perth, in western Australia.
“This report contains important new information on what we believe happened at the end of MH370’s flight,” said Australia’s Transport Minister Darren Chester at the start of a three-day meeting in Canberra where the experts will assess the information related to the disappearance of MH370 and plan the final stages of the search.
Australia leads the search operation which also includes Malaysia and China. The operation is looking for the wreckage in an area of 120,000 sq.km in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, of which 10,000 sq.km are still left to be searched.
It is estimated that the operation will take until January 2017 to complete.
So far, pieces of plane debris were found on Reunion Island beaches, Mozambique, Mauritius, South Africa and the French island of Rodrigues, places that match with the pattern of currents in the Indian Ocean and where the search is carried out now.
The publication of the report and the start of the expert meeting coincided with the decision of Malaysia Airlines to yield all the information available on MH370 to Australian families of passengers on that flight who litigate to obtain compensation.
The documents include the most recent medical certificates of pilots and cabin crew, operations manual for the plane, procedures for carrying dangerous goods and procedures for loss of radio contact.