MH370: British pilot claims plane could be found in 'weeks'
Hardy spent six months analysing MH370 data and says the search team is finally in the right place
A British pilot believes the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 could be found "in a matter of weeks" after the deep sea hunt for the plane shifted to a remote part of the Indian Ocean.
Following extensive analysis, Simon Hardy claims the area, which will be searched next month by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), is the missing plane's most likely resting place.
The experienced Boeing 777 pilot told The Australian newspaper: "I am fairly confident that the wreckage will be found within the next four to eight weeks."
However, Australian authorities stressed they were not being guided by Hardy's analysis. Martin Dolan, ATSB's chief commissioner, said the location had been chosen because the southern hemisphere weather had made the extreme conditions in the southern ocean calmer.
Hardy spent six months analysing known MH370 data and concluded that the plane was intentionally landed on the Indian Ocean and sank intact just 20 nautical miles (37km) outside an area that was being searched in April this year. The ATSB described his theory as "credible" at the time.
He suggested that MH370's captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who comes from Penang, performed a U-turn after turning off the flight's transponder.
After flying along the border between Malaysia and Thailand, the aircraft reached Penang and made three turns in quick succession.
"It took me months to work out what this was," Hardy told The Sunday Times. "The clue was Ayers Rock [in Australia]. I have done the same manoeuvre there, to look down and get a great view. Somebody was taking a last emotional look at Penang."
China, which lost 153 citizens in the air disaster on 8 March 2014, has also pledged an additional £9.5m to help with the search.
In July, a wing part known as the flaperon washed up on Reunion Island. Experts said that the debris almost certainly came from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, but nothing further was found and that stage of the search was subsequently called off.
MH370: sonar experts 'jumped out of chairs' on seeing new images
Sonar analysis experts are urging the MH370 search team to revisit an area of the Indian Ocean after seeing pictures of objects they believe closely resemble an aircraft debris field.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the hunt for the missing plane, recently published new images from the search area after resurveying a number of possible debris sites, but ruled out any link to the missing aircraft.
However, sonar analysis experts from the Seattle-based geophysical consulting firm Williamson & Associates said they "jumped out of their chairs" when they saw the new images online, reports the Herald Sun.
The ATSB concluded that the objects were likely to be "edges of rock exposed above the seabed and associated scattered rock", but Rob McCallum, manager of special projects at Williamson & Associates, said the pictures did not "appear to be geology as such".
He added: "They're certainly worth another look, and by that I mean putting down a camera. It's not a difficult thing to do, and it's better to be certain for the sake of all of the families."
Analysts pointed out that the edges of the pictures are blurry, suggesting the sonar equipment was being "pushed to the limits" and they might be "missing something".
Williamson & Associates lost out on a tender position with ATSB for the MH370 search, despite specialising in sonar equipment that helped find an Australian warship in 2008, sixty years after it sank to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
An ATSB spokesman said its own specialists were satisfied that the images did not show aircraft debris.
"We consider it unprofessional to draw conclusions based on the limited information provided by the images in the search update report," he said. "There are no indications that there is anything possessing the characteristics of an aircraft debris field and therefore a visual imaging run at very low altitude… was unnecessary."
MH370: woman claims to have found wreckage and skeletons
A woman in the Philippines claims to have found the wreckage of a plane "containing many skeletons and painted with the Malaysian flag", prompting speculation it could be part of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Siti Kayam claims to have stumbled across a smashed fuselage while she and others were out hunting for birds on the island of Sugbai.
According to the Daily Mail, police in neighbouring Borneo have confirmed they received a report of the discovery in thick jungle on the remote island.
Authorities are reluctant to say more at this time and "remain reserved about the report", says the Mail.
Sugbai lies more than 4,500 miles east of Reunion Island, where French officials believe part of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane was found earlier this year.
Experts say it is "highly unlikely" that debris could have drifted from the remote Philippines island to the other side of the Indian ocean, especially as Borneo, mainland Malaysia and parts of Indonesia lie in the way.
It is understood the report will be verified or dismissed after further investigation within the next day or so.
MH370 disappeared in March last year with 239 people on board. A senior French prosecutor confirmed last month that a series of numbers found inside the barnacle-crusted jet wing part, found on Reunion, matches records held by a Spanish manufacturer as being part of the Boeing 777.