The Australian-led search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has shifted 1,100km to the north-east after investigators calculated the plane was going faster and using more fuel when it disappeared than previously thought.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said the analysis was based on the plane’s final radar contacts between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca, and suggested the plane would have burned more fuel in the opening stages of its flight. It therefore would not have made it as far into the Indian Ocean before running out of fuel and crashing.

The new target location means planes are able to spend longer over the search area, and with the prospect of much better weather because it is away the notoriously foul conditions of the “roaring forties”between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees south. Previously aircraft had been consuming much of their fuel and their time just getting out to sea and returning. This left limited capacity to remain “on-scene”, said John Young, general manager of the Amsa emergency response division.

“We will certainly get better time on scene. We started nearly 3,000km from Perth so we’ve taken quite a lot off that. You might recall we were talking in terms of one to two hours on-scene. We’re now doing much better than that.

“The other benefit we get from the north is the search area has moved out of the roaring forties, which creates very adverse weather frequently. I’m not sure we’ll get perfect weather out there but it’s likely to be better more often than we’ve seen in the past.”

Australia’s Geospatial Intelligence Organisation is reprogramming satellites to image the new area. “We will see what that does in terms of satellite imagery when the retasking of satellite starts to produce new material as well,” Young said….see more

source: The Guardian