The lead author of the new MH370 location report aerospace engineer Richard Godfrey has answered questions giving more details and clarity to the report’s findings.
We publish Mr Godfrey’s responses to the questions in full below.
1. Does the new calculated WSPR Route fit to the KNOWN part of the flight path at the border of the Malaysian radar control?
The new route fits the civilian radar from Butterworth Air Force Base for the Penang Airport area exactly, which is available up to 18:00:51 UTC.
There is a single military radar detection at 18:22:12 UTC, but the raw data has never been released. There are two conflicting definitions of the position of MH370 at 18:22:12 UTC:
– The Malaysian Military presented a slide to the NOK at the Beijing Lido shows the position was 200 nmi from Butterworth on a bearing of 295°T, which would position MH370 at 6.871123°N 97.354047°E.
– The Malaysian Safety Investigation Report shows the position was 10 nmi beyond waypoint MEKAR on flight route N571 toward waypoint NILAM, which would position MH370 at 6.577655°N 96.340864°E.
These two positions are 116.6 km apart.
The DSTG decided not to use this single military radar detection for two reasons:
– The radar data is less accurate at long range.
– The radar data is not consistent with the Inmarsat satellite data at the 1st Arc following the SDU reboot at 18:25:27 UTC, even at 18:28:15 UTC after the SDU satellite data had settled.
Both the previous and the current GDTAAA and WSPRnet analysis matched each of the Inmarsat satellite BTO and BFO data points from 7th March 2014 18:28:15 UTC up until the last data point on 8th March 2014 at 00:19:37 UTC.
2. Has the location you found out to be the plane’s final resting place been searched yet? ( e.g. by Ocean Infinity in 2018?)
Ocean Infinity only searched 22 nmi on either side of the 7th Arc in this area. The new crash location is near the estimated position given by GDTAAA and the WSPRnet data at 00:26 UTC of 30.57°S 98.75°E and is outside the previously searched area at a position approximately 42 nmi South East of the 7th Arc.
3. How does this new research affect Ocean Infinity’s planned search for 2023?
Ocean Infinity has been kept fully informed of this update. The new crash location at around 30.57°S is very close to the centre of the area defined by Prof. Charitha Pattiaratchi which is 30.5°S and between 28°S and 33°S as determined in his drift analysis. It was this drift analysis that correctly predicted where Blaine Gibson should look and would discover 20 items from MH370. In total 36 items of MH370 floating debris have been recovered and analysed by the authorities.
Ocean Infinity is determined to search until they find MH370. Their new technology allows them to efficiently cover a large underwater search area and well beyond what has previously been announced to the NOK on 6th March 2022 and the Malaysian authorities on 20th June 2022.
4. How come there’s such a big difference in terms of the flight path and the crash spot in comparison to the first WSPR flight path?
There is a significant difference in allowing SNR anomalies only equal to or greater than one standard deviation (SD) compared with previously allowing SNR anomalies equal to or greater than 0.25 SD. We have shown in section 13 of the new paper that there is likely valid information in SNR anomalies equal to or greater than 0.75 SD. SNR anomalies between 0.25 SD and 0.75 SD have been discarded as not providing reliable information and this has led to the change in track. This change in handling the SNR anomalies has been made following a suggestion by Prof. Simon Maskell. He is familiar with the details of our work and independently uses the WSPR data in an analysis of the MH370 flight path as well as more generally to ascertain its usefulness to detect and track aircraft.
The following comparison between the previous and the current flight path shows broad agreement despite the significant changes in GDTAAA over the last 9 months:
The major divergence between the flight paths occurs after the 5th Arc, where the flight path previously continued in a more southerly direction, which in turn resulted last year, in a crash location 2.6° of latitude further south. The crash location has moved 436 km further North-East, but the Indian Ocean is 70.56 million km2 and this is a relatively small difference.
Boeing, Inmarsat, ATSB, DSTG, Mick Gilbert, Captio, Ed Anderson, Victor Iannello and UGIB have all presented analyses of MH370 of the flight of MH370 following straight lines:
Mike Exner first pointed out in his paper dated 26th April 2014 that the BFO data from the 2nd Arc to the 6th Arc followed a straight line. This was followed by an Inmarsat paper dated 4th September 2014 showing that the BFO data from the 2nd Arc to the 6th Arc followed a nearly straight line and the BTO data followed a smooth curve resulting in a straight line flight path for MH370. Both ignored the granularity of these 5 data points was every hour and a lot could happen in between.
Niels Tas was the first MH370 analyst to consider curved flight paths in his paper titled “Python-based implementation of MH370 explicit path generation employing polynomial fits to BTO and BFO derived input data” dated 21st February 2021.
We have shown, with the much-improved granularity of the WSPRnet data (77 WSPRnet data points versus 7 Inmarsat satellite data points), that the flight path was anything but a straight line and much more like a zig-zag flight path. Using GDTAAA and the WSPRnet data is more like taking a video as opposed to a few photos. This zig-zag flight path raises the question of whether the pilot was disoriented, because of all the turns up to every 8 minutes during the flight, coupled with times up to 32 minutes under autopilot in straight flight.
5. Are you sure that this time you have really found the plane’s final resting place?
In science, there is nothing sinister in updating techniques and thus results where appropriate. It happens all the time due to the improvements in technology and further development and refining of techniques. Just look at how far carbon dating has come. In the early days, there were some serious outliers in the carbon dating results but nowadays it is accepted as a very valuable science. And all of this happened because of continuous improvements.
I expect a continuous improvement in our GDTAAA software and the WSPRnet method. Kaizen is a compound of two Japanese words that together translate as “good change” or “improvement.” However, Kaizen has come to mean “continuous improvement” through its association with the lean methodology and associated principles. We follow these principles of continuous improvement.
6. Are you in contact with the ATSB? If yes, maybe they could review their old data belonging to the area you predicted, just like they did in March/April of 2022.
The ATSB kindly provided flight data to support the testing of the GDTAAA software and WSPRnet-based detection and tracking of AMSA search aircraft between Pearce Air Force Base and the MH370 search area in March and April 2014 timeframe under a confidentiality agreement.
The ATSB did not cover this newly defined search area in their original underwater search in 2015 and 2016, although the area was partially covered in their underwater survey in 2014.
The area was only partially covered by Ocean Infinity in 2018 up to a distance of 22 nmi from the 7th Arc, but the crash location is more likely up to 42 nmi from the 7th Arc as explained in the answer to question 2 above.
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