MH370 mystery could be solved by new technology to track aircraft radio signals

Despite the most expensive search in aviation history, barely a trace of the MH370 Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was found after it and its 239 passengers and crew went missing

In a photo taken immediately afterwards, a girl looks at a board covered with messages of support for the missing MH370 passengers

New technology could help predict the final location of the MH370 airliner and finally solve the seven-year search for the aircraft and its 239 passengers.

Hardly a trace has been found of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which disappeared over the Indian Ocean on a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing in 2014.

Theories about the disappearance range from something as harmless as technical failure to something as sinister as mass murder-suicide of Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, the Malaysian captain.

The last search was conducted in 2018 by the marine robot company Ocean Infinity using unmanned underwater vehicles covering nearly 50,000 square miles, but nothing was ever recovered.

However, according to a report in The Times newspaper, attempts at new technology that can track historical data through radio signals bouncing off aircraft fuselages could be key to ultimately locating the missing airliner.

A Malaysia Airlines aircraft is seen on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on July 21, 2014
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Image:

AFP / Getty Images)

The technology has proven so successful that its pioneers believe it might even be possible to map the final minutes of MH370 with significantly increased accuracy and narrow the search area for investigators.

British aerospace engineer Richard Godfrey conducted tests on a little-known online database set up in 2009 as the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR), which records every interaction between aircraft in the sky and signals from ground-based radio transmitters.

He told the Times, “Imagine you are traversing a prairie with invisible tripwires that criss-cross the entire area and go back and forth across its length and breadth.

“With every step you step on certain tripwires and we can locate you at the intersection of the disturbed tripwires. We can follow your path as you move through the prairie. “

Debris from Flight MH370 is on display during the commemoration ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines plane
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Image:

FAZRY ISMAIL / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)

He used the method to trace the trajectory of a New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft that photographed debris on the ocean surface shortly after the MH370 disappeared.

Although the debris was never recovered, it contained a large panel that resembled a Boeing 777 wing component that many experts now suspect was part of MH370.

Ocean Infinity said it was aware of the trials and said, “We are always keen to continue our search, be it new information or new technology.”

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