(Please note, this matter is not currently being litigated in Australia)On Saturday March 15, the Malaysian Prime Minister acknowledged that expert foreign assistance from the US FAA, the UK AAIB, and Malaysian authorities on satellite data returns has confirmed the last communication by the aircraft was actually at 8:11 am Malaysia time on Saturday 8 March.
This information will immediately result in refinement of the search efforts.
The data described today reportedly cannot confirm when last contact was with the satellite but based on analysis of those communications the aircraft is now thought to be in potentially one of two possible corridors of Indian Ocean: a northern corridor stretching from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan down to open water in the south, or a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the Southern Indian Ocean as far as 1000 nautical miles west of Western Australia. The search team is working to further refine that information.
In light of this reassessment of the direction the aircraft seemingly purposefully travelled without its transponder on - ie, well west of its intended flight path and possibly to the end of the range of the B777 accounting for the fuel it was carrying, Malaysia has refocused inquiries into the crew and all on board but notes it is still investigating all other possibilities too. Now seems more likely that the aircraft was subject to interference from within.
Accordingly terrorism and hijacking are again firmly on the suspicion list of causes for the aircraft's disappearance.
This latest information means that Malaysia will cease its search operations in the South China Sea and reassess its other deployments.
The two new corridors suspected to be where the aircraft may have ended up involve many countries, so the foreign embassies of those nations have been invited to a briefing by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the technical experts from the various organisations.
The legal significance of the search moving to a more southern and western location means that the most likely site of the aircraft will be in international waters. This in turn means that Malaysia will be responsible for the official investigation under Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention of the causes of the accident/incident but it has the choice to involve other authorities.
As we have seen in recent days both British, and American authorities have been brought in early to work on the dearth of information - not in the context of an investigation as they usually would be as the country of the engine and airframe manufacturer respectively, but in the exceedingly unusual context of a search effort.
Hopefully families will now be closer to the answers they seek as search efforts shift decisively to an area independently verified by diverse international aviation experts as being the most likely location of flight MH370.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: March 19, 2014.