Both engines of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 likely flamed out, suggesting that the jet was not intentionally ditched, Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said in a new report Thursday. The news comes as Australian authorities showed their confidence over the area where the search for the missing plane has been underway for months.
The ATSB report said that analysis about the plane’s engines was made after a comprehensive study of the available satellite and meteorological data, including the final satellite communication transmission from the aircraft. A search for the Boeing 777-200 has been ongoing in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean for nearly two years, without any concrete clues as to what led to the plane’s mysterious disappearance. Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board while on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
The recent ATSB analysis concludes that after Flight MH370 had been airborne for 7 hours and 38 minutes, “fuel exhaustion was probable.”
“It is likely that the right engine flamed out first followed by the left engine,” ATSB said in the report, adding that the left engine “could have continued to run for up to 15 minutes after the right engine flamed out.”
ATSB said the evidence of a double engine flameout is “inconsistent with a controlled ditching scenario.” The bureau said that “a controlled ditching scenario requires engine thrust to properly control the direction and vertical speed at touchdown and to provide hydraulic power for the flight controls including the flaps.”
The new analysis of data also reportedly shows that the search operation is focused in the right area. The search has been focused on a 46,332 sq. mile area in the southern Indian Ocean off Western Australia.
Three-quarters of a “hot spot” area within the search zone has been scoured, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters in Canberra Thursday, adding that officials were “optimistic” that Flight MH370 will be found.
Truss said he remained “hopeful, indeed optimistic, that we will still locate the aircraft” and that the ATSB report gave “real encouragement,” BBC reported.
The multimillion-dollar search for Flight MH370 has dragged on for several months without success. The only wreckage found so far is a wing flap that was discovered in the French island of Réunion in July.