Probe now refines satellite data to know how MH370 ended up in Indian Ocean, says report

Eyeballing sonar images still the way to go, say experts in search for MH370

With Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 said to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, investigators are now poring over satellite data to find out what brought the Boeing 777-200ER to the remote area, whether it deliberately crashed or flew on autopilot, a person close to the Malaysian investigation told Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

"If and when we get a more precise location, then we might be able to work out if it drifted on autopilot or if it was flown there," the person said.

"With the amount of fuel on board, did it go to the most remote location? Did it take a circuitous route?"

A new analysis of satellite data, as mentioned by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Monday, has narrowed the search area to a quarter of the previous target zone.

Investigators have also been scrutinising the background of pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, as it is believed that the flight communication system had been deliberately turned off.

However, no motive or evidence of sabotage has emerged.

"If you want to ditch it in the most remote place, if that is indeed what happened, you would have to be twisted to do that," said the source to WSJ. "At this stage, who knows why?"

The source said Malaysia was keeping all options open. "Some people are wedded to the theory of a deliberate action. We don't rule anything out."

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had declined to discuss the investigation, saying premature release of information could make it harder to find answers.

The WSJ report said investigators were pinning their hopes on the recovery of the black box, though chances of finding it diminish with each passing day, as its signals would stop in about 12 days when its battery runs out.

Yesterday, Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said search operation was now exclusively focused on the southern part of the Indian Ocean, covering a total radius of 469,467 square nautical miles.

The search for flight MH370 is the longest in modern passenger-airline history. The previous record was the 10-day search for a Boeing 737-400 operated by Indonesia’s PT Adam Skyconnection Airlines, which went missing off the coast of Sulawesi island on January 1, 2007. – March 26, 2014.