PERTH, Australia – Planes are searching a new area of the Indian Ocean for possible signs of the Malaysian airliner after a new analysis of radar data suggests the plane flew faster than thought and used up more fuel, which may have reduced the distance it traveled, Australia said today.
Based on the new information, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it had shifted the search area for the jet that disappeared nearly three weeks ago to a region nearly 700 miles to the northeast of where planes and ships had been trying to find any sign of it.
Four search planes were in the area today, and six ships were headed there, said John Young, manager of AMSA’s emergency response division.
AMSA said the change in search areas came from new information based on continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost with Flight 370 early on March 8.
The analysis indicated the aircraft was traveling faster than previously estimated, resulting in increased fuel use and reducing the possible distance the aircraft could have flown into the Indian Ocean.
The new search area is more than 600 miles north of an area in which apparently floating objects were spotted by Japanese, Thai and French satellites earlier this week.
Authorities are rushing to find any piece of the plane to help them locate the so-called black boxes, or flight data and voice recorders, that will help solve the mystery of why the jet, en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, flew so far off-course. The battery in the black box normally lasts about a month.