Australia claims to locate MH370 with 'unprecedented precision'

Australia's main scientific agency said on Wednesday it believed with "unprecedented precision and certainty" that a missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft crashed into the sea northeast of an area scoured in a fruitless two-year underwater search.

The agency's assertion is based on satellite pictures taken two weeks after Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, on a flight to Beijing from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

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But the Australian government rejected the conclusion of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), issued in a report on Wednesday, saying it was not specific enough.

The disappearance of the Boeing 777 has become one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries. It is thought to have been diverted thousands of miles off course out over the southern Indian Ocean before crashing off the coast of Western Australia.

Australia, Malaysia and China called off a A$200 million ($160 million), two-year search for the plane in January after finding nothing, despite the protests of families of those onboard.

The CSIRO has previously raised doubts about the main 120,000-sq-km underwater search zone, saying it believed the plane went down to the north of it.

Its latest assertion was its most insistent yet and was based on a review of satellite images provided by the French military intelligence service and France's national space agency, CNES, which showed 70 pieces of debris with a dozen of those "probably" man-made.

"We think it is possible to identify a most-likely location of the aircraft, with unprecedented precision and certainty," the CSIRO said.

CSIRO oceanographer and the report's lead author, David Griffin, told Reuters by telephone that if the debris spotted in the pictures was authentic, then it supported previous ocean-drift analysis pointing to a crash zone just to the north of the area that was most thoroughly searched.

"It all fits together so perfectly, the only thing missing is proof that those actually are pieces of plane," Griffin said.

Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for the airliner but has said that would depend on finding credible evidence about the plane's whereabouts.

Australian transport minister Darren Chester said the new analysis "does not provide new evidence leading to a specific location of MH370."

Malaysia's deputy transport minister Aziz Kaprawi declined to comment on the agency's report, saying that he was awaiting further information from Australian authorities.

But he said Malaysia has not given up on the search and it had called for a meeting with Australian and Chinese authorities to discuss an offer from a private seabed exploration firm, Ocean Infinity, to resume the search.

"No decision has been made but we are definitely considering a new search. We will seek input from our counterparts," he told Reuters.

Malaysia said this month Ocean Infinity had offered to search for free, and would seek payment only if the aircraft was found. A company spokesman declined to comment.

The company says on its website it has the world's most advanced fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles for seabed mapping, survey and search.

Australia and Malaysia earlier rejected investigators' recommendations to extend the hunt by 25,000 sq km (9,653 square miles) north of the original search area, saying the location identified was too imprecise.

Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370's transponder before diverting it over the Indian Ocean.

Various pieces of debris have been collected from Indian Ocean islands and Africa's east coast and at least three of them have been confirmed as coming from the missing plane.

CSIRO said some of objects spotted in the pictures were "comparable with some of the debris items that have washed up on African beaches."

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY and Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR.; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Ten little-known lifesaving aircraft features
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Ten little-known lifesaving aircraft features

Flying is one of the safest ways to travel and while you would have noticed a number of safety features on your flight, such as the emergency exits, there are a tonne of things you've probably never noticed.

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From the wing hooks to black triangles on the walls, these are some of the little-known plane features that are secretly keeping you safe...

The purpose of the hole is to allow pressure to equalise between the passenger cabin and the air gap between the panes. At high altitude the air is less pressurised and contains less oxygen; to make sure those on board don't lose consciousness, the cabin air on the inside of the plane is pressurised. This puts great pressure on the windows and the 'bleed hole' simply relieves some of this. The hole also prevents the windows from fogging up.
Ever wondered why planes still have ashtrays in the toilets even though smoking on aircraft has been banned since the '90s? This is in case someone does light up while in the lavatory and has somewhere safe to stub out their cigarette rather than tossing the burning butt in the bin where it could catch fire. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules that toilet doors must be fitted with ashtrays as a legal requirement.
All flight desks must carry an axe but have you ever wondered why? Retired airline captain Anas Maaz took to Quora and explained: "It is a fire-fighting device used to cut away cockpit panels and other aircraft areas if a fire develops inside them. The cutting allows the fire to be exposed, making it easier to aim the extinguishers to kill the fire off." Due to anti-terrorism regulations many airlines have replaced their axes with crowbars.
The handles located at either side of the emergency exit are a safety measure for cabin crew to hang on and assist passengers in an emergency evacuation. If panicked passengers rush past while trying to escape, flight attendants could be shoved down the slide. The shoulder-length handles allow them to hang on while they man the doors.
Those metal hooks you may have spotted sticking out of the plane wings are part of the evacuation system if aircraft is forced to land somewhere where you can't use the terminal boarding bridge. They are anchors for tying guide ropes which will help you safely off the slippery wing in an evacuation. If a life raft is deployed, the rope can be used to tether it and help passengers reach it.

The tiny black triangles on the walls of a plane indicate the position from which the wings can best be seen by staff from inside the aircraft. Writing on Quora, pilot Bruno Gilissen explains: "If there's any doubt about the position of the slats or flaps, the pilot can walk down the cabin, have a look through the window where the triangle is located, and see the numbers written on the slats/flaps."

Ever noticed a hum while waiting for the rest of the passengers to board a plane? The engines aren't powered up yet but the sound you hear is the auxiliary power unit, which provides electricity to the plane temporarily until it is ready for take-off. The small turbine powers a generator for electricity and a compressor for air pressure. The APU powers everything from the cabin lights to starting the main engine and is switched on before the first passenger boards so that everyone can sit in comfort before take-off.

Plane windows are oval in shape because dangerous levels of stress would build up on the corners of square windows. A round window drastically reduces the chances of pressure building up and the likelihood of breaking. The narrowest part of the oval is designed to ensure the curve doesn't generate unsafe stresses in the surrounding material.
As one Reddit user threeway explains, "you are able to unlock airplane lavatories from the outside. There is usually a lock mechanism concealed behind the no smoking badge on the door. Just lift the flap up and slide the bolt to unlock." This is used by flight attendants only if a child gets trapped or a passenger falls unconscious so don't be tempted to use this feature if you’re stuck waiting in line.
Many airlines now equip their aircraft with defibrillators in case of a medical emergency. Qantas was the first carrier to introduce the defibrillators and all American airlines are required to carry them, while British Airways, Emirates, easyJet, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic also have them on board. After a British passenger suffered a cardiac arrest and died on a Ryanair flight in 2015, the low-cost airline announced that all of its aircraft would be equipped with the devices.

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