Under pressure for more information from families of those lost aboard Malaysia Flight 370, data collected by a British satellite company about the missing plane's final hours was released Tuesday.
The Malaysian government has released 47 pages of raw satellite data used to conclude that the missing Malaysia Airlines jet crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.
That Inmarsat data consists of a few electronic pings between the plane and the British company's satellite network. It was analyzed and used as the basis for focusing the recovery search — so far without success — on a remote section of the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was lost March 8 with 239 people aboard after departing Malaysian airspace. Based on analysis of Inmarsat data, aviation experts concluded the plane had circled back over Malaysia and then tracked to the south over ocean.
The plane carried 227 passengers and a crew of 12. Some of the families of the passengers, two-thirds of them Chinese, have demanded that the data be made public so that independent experts can verify it.
Last week, Inmarsat and Malaysian authorities said they were trying to make the raw data accessible.In a posting on its Facebook page, a group representing some of the families said: "Finally, after almost three months, the Inmarsat raw data is released to the public. Hope this is the original raw data and can be used to potentially 'think out of the box' to get an alternative positive outcome."
"In line with our commitment towards greater transparency, all parties are working for the release of the data communication logs and the technical description of the analysis for public consumption," Inmarsat and the Malaysian aviation officials said in a joint statement.
One independent expert said Tuesday his initial impression was that the communication logs didn't include key assumptions, algorithms and metadata needed to validate the investigation team's conclusion that the plane flew south after dropping off radar screens 90 minutes into the flight.
"It's a whole lot of stuff that is not very important to know," said Michael Exner, a satellite engineer who has been intensively researching the calculations based on information released so far. "There are probably two or three pages of important stuff, the rest is just noise. It doesn't add any value to our understanding."
An unmanned U.S. Navy sub that has been scouring an approximately 155-square mile patch of seabed since April is scheduled to finish its mission on Wednesday. The Bluefin 21 has been searching in an area where sounds consistent with aircraft black boxes were detected last month. (USA Today)