Search & Debris


MH370 – Search and debris examination update

Published: 2 November 2016

Amended: 2 December 2016 - Correction to Figure 11 caption text under image to remove inconsistency with report text on Page 17.

Executive summary

This report provides an update to the MH370 search area definition described in previous ATSB reports. It comprises further analysis of satellite data, additional end of flight simulations, a summary of the analysis of the right outboard wing flap, and preliminary results from the enhanced debris drift modelling.

For background information, please refer to the ATSB publications available online at

  • Definition of underwater search areas, 18 August 2014
  • Flight Path Analysis Update, 8 October 2014
  • Definition of Underwater Search Area Update, 3 December 2015.

The Australian Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group[1] conducted a comprehensive analysis of the Inmarsat satellite communications (SATCOM) data and a model of aircraft dynamics. The output of the DST Group analysis was a probability density function (PDF) defining the probable location of the aircraft’s crossing of the 7th arc.

Details of this analysis and the validation experiments are available in the open source published book here:

Additional analysis of the burst frequency offsets associated with the final satellite communications to and from the aircraft is consistent with the aircraft being in a high and increasing rate of descent at that time. Additionally, the wing flap debris analysis reduced the likelihood of end-of-flight scenarios involving flap deployment.

Preliminary results of the CSIRO’s drift analysis indicated it was unlikely that debris originated from south of the current search area. The northernmost simulated regions were also found to be less likely. Drift analysis work is ongoing and is expected to refine these results.


  1. Formerly the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO)

7th arc burst frequency offset (BFO) analysis

End of flight simulations

Drift modelling update

Debris summary and analysis