- Two separate studies say MH370 search area is correct
- Studies suggest "priority area" in Indian Ocean search zone
The Joint Agency Coordination Center, the Australian government agency in charge of the search, said a new "prioritized" search area in the Indian Ocean had been identified by the new analysis, at the southern end of the existing search zone.
It is significant that the two studies, which had been taking place since the search began and used different methods, reached similar conclusions, the JACC said.
"The new research released today further emphasizes that we are searching in the right direction," Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said at a press conference.
The Australian Defense Science and Technology (DST) Group carried out its analysis using Bayesian methods -- a statistical technique that informs probability -- while aircraft maker Boeing analyzed the possible speed and flight ranges of the plane at different cruise altitudes.
The JACC said that the discovery of the flaperon on Reunion island in July was consistent with the current search area.
In September, French authorities confirmed
that the plane part was from the missing flight.
The existing 120,000 square kilometer target area will continue to be "thoroughly searched," the JACC said, an operation that will likely take until June 2016.
To date, around 76,000 square kilometers -- more than 60% of the search area -- has been covered. Truss said that improving weather conditions would make the search easier and the vessels involved would focus on the southern parts of the target area.
Truss added that China is providing a ship that will join the search in January, bringing the total to four.
MH370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared in the early hours of March 8, 2014, less than an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, en route to Beijing, China.