The search area for the missing Malaysian Airlines Fligh MH370 has been shifted further south in the Indian Ocean after fresh review of satellite data by the specialists.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the new search area is based on a "more thorough" analysis of satellite data from the missing plane.
"The new priority area is still focused on the same seventh arc in the southern Indian Ocean, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite. We are now shifting our attention to an area further south along that arc, broadly in the area where our first search efforts were focused. The area has already been subject to aerial and visual searching for wreckage and debris, but now we will move to an underwater search," said Truss.
Truss also said it is "highly, highly likely" the missing jet was on autopilot when it ran out of fuel and crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
Otherwise, he said, the aircraft could not have followed such an orderly path as seen in the satellite readings used to track its likely resting place.
The area is a 60,000 square kilometer arc in the southern Indian Ocean, about 1,800 kilometers off the southwest Australian coast.
Ships are currently carrying out a complex, bathymetric survey to learn more about the depths and shapes of the underwater terrain in the area.
The process will take around three months. Officials then expect the underwater search to begin in August and take up to 12 more months.
An underwater drone recently finished up an unsuccessful, two-month-long search of 850 square kilometers of Indian Ocean seabed.
That location was near where authorities heard faint electronic signals thought to be from the missing jet\’s flight data recorder.
Authorities now conclude they were likely distracted by the "pings," which turned out to be a false lead.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 when it disappeared with 239 people on board.
Malaysian investigators believe someone intentionally diverted the plane, whose communications devices were shut off or malfunctioned.
To determine the jet\’s location, authorities have had to rely on a complex analysis of electronic signals sent from the plane to a communications satellite.