MH370 data review joint statement from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau & Geoscience Australia

A review of search data from the original Australian Transport Safety Bureau-led search for the missing MH370 aircraft has concluded that it is highly unlikely there is an aircraft debris field within the reviewed search area. 

In late January 2022, the ATSB asked Geoscience Australia to undertake a review of some of the sonar imagery collected during the original search for MH370, conducted between October 2014 and January 2017.    

The ATSB made the request after British aerospace engineer Richard Godfrey proposed an impact location for MH370 within an area surveyed during the original ATSB-led search, after his analysis of Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) data.    

“The Geoscience Australia report notes that it is highly unlikely that there is an aircraft debris field within the area reviewed,” said ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell. 

The review identified 11 objects not analysed during the original search. However, none were assessed to be from an aircraft wreckage debris field.    

Eight of the objects were assessed as most likely geological features, and while three were identified as anthropogenic (ie not naturally occurring), none were determined to be associated with an aircraft. 

Geoscience Australia Chief Executive Officer Dr James Johnson said over a two-month period, a team of experts had reviewed a band of high-resolution sonar imagery spanning 4,900 square kilometres.    

“This data allowed us to detect objects as small as 30 centimetres by 30 centimetres. If the aircraft was within the area we have reviewed, the sonar data would have shown a scatter field of highly reflective debris,” Dr Johnson said.   

“I want to thank my team for the skill and heart they brought to this work and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau for their leadership and partnership throughout this process.”   

Said Mr Mitchell: “The ATSB concluded its formal involvement the search for MH370 in 2017, but we acknowledge the importance of locating the aircraft to provide answers and closure to the families of those who lost loved ones and in the interests of aviation safety. 

“Can I thank Geoscience Australia for their work in applying their expertise and knowledge in reviewing the original search data.” 

Stated Dr Johnson, “We all understand the emotion that will come with this news, and those at the centre of this tragedy remain in our thoughts.”   

The data review report is available for download here.

Media inquiries: media@atsb.gov.au

Last update 22 April 2022

MH370 data review

MH370 data review