Reports/The Operational Search for MH370/Communications and media

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Communications and media

At times the ATSB’s search program drew on the resources of the rest of the agency including the operational (investigation and technical resources), legal, finance, Information and Communications Technology and business services areas. Managing the significant volume of correspondence in relation to the search for MH370 required dedicated media and communications staff in the search team as the disappearance of MH370 has and continues to draw worldwide attention. The ATSB has received and processed over 3,500 pieces of correspondence, which include theories and queries from members of the public, scientists and academics, questions and requests for interviews and access from local and international press.



When the ATSB assumed responsibility for coordinating the underwater search, a new MH370- specific section was added to the ATSB’s website, This section was designed to provide information and resources for all levels of interest. This included factsheets on various elements of the search, photographs and films, technical investigation reports and the archive of daily operational search updates.



The search for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean involved a substantial amount of technical analysis and tasking, both to identify and refine the search area, and the practical elements of the conduct of the search itself. In an effort to provide the public with a clear understanding of the processes and resources, the ATSB published factsheets covering different elements of the search. These included:

  • MH370: Aircraft Debris and Drift Modelling
  • MH370: Sonar Contacts
  • Considerations on defining the search area – MH370
  • Mapping the seafloor – Bathymetric survey – MH370
  • The intensified underwater search for MH370
  • MH370: Bathymetric Survey
  • MH370: Multibeam Sonar
  • MH370: Burst Timing Offset (BTO) Characteristics
  • MH370: Update to Signalling Unit Logs

The ATSB’s website also provided links to works that collaborating agencies/bodies had published elsewhere:

  • The Search for MH370 (an article by Chris Ashton, Alan Shuster Bruce, Gary Colledge and Mark Dickinson of Inmarsat, published in The Journal of Navigation.)
  • MH370 – drift analysis: Trajectories of Global Drifter Program drifters (an article by David Griffin of CSIRO)
  • The Use of Burst Frequency Offsets in the Search for MH370 (an article by Ian Holland of Defence Science and Technology Group.)
  • Bayesian Methods in the Search for MH370 (a book by Sam Davey, Neil Gordon, Ian Holland, Mark Rutten, and Jason Williams that encompassed the expert analysis of available data by the Defence Science and Technology Group.)


Technical Investigation Reports

As part of Australia’s role in leading the search and as an accredited representative to Malaysia’s Annex 13 investigation, the ATSB opened an external investigation, AE-2014-054: Assistance to Malaysian Ministry of Transport in support of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on 7 March 2014 UTC.

As part of that external investigation, the following reports have been published on the ATSB website:

  • MH370 – First Principles Review (published 20 December 2016)
  • MH370 – Search and debris examination update (published 2 November 2016, amended 2 December 2016)
  • Debris examination reports 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
  • MH370 – Definition of Underwater Search Areas (published 3 December 2015, amended 10 December 2015)
  • MH370 – Flight Path Analysis Update (published 8 October 2014)
  • MH370 – Definition of Underwater Search Areas (published 26 June 2014, amended 18 August 2014, amended 30 July 2015).

The website also hosts the CSIRO reports:- The search for MH370 and ocean surface drift, parts I, II and III
and the Geoscience Australia report; Summary of imagery analyses for non-natural objects in support of the search for Flight MH370.

Source: The Operational Search for MH370, Australian Transport Safety Bureau, 3 October 2017

Extracts from The Operational Search for MH370 have been included here for reference purposes, particularly the sections which relate to the history of the flight; times and events; the aircraft's satellite data unit (SDU); and the Pilot in Command’s flight simulator.