Monday, April 28, 2014

Michael Hoebel: Missing flight MH370 wreckage 'identified' by American pilot

Michael Hoebel, 60, believes he has found an image of the plane seemingly in one piece taken days after the plane disappeared

A recreational pilot in America believes he has identified the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

Michael Hoebel, 60, of New York, spent hours trawling through thousands of images released to the public on crowd-sourcing website TomNod.

He came across a piece of debris floating under the water off the northeast coast of Malaysia and west of Songkhla in Thailand which he says perfectly matches the dimensions of the missing aircraft.

If he is proven correct, the plane, which disappeared two months ago, looks to have been in one piece at the time the image was taken - days after it went missing.

"I was taken aback because I couldn't believe I would find this," he told WIVB.

Comparing the image to a picture of the plane, he told the reporter: "The lighter skin where the wing attaches to the fuselage - you see that lighter skin [here in the image]."

When asked if it could be a shark, he responded: "That's a 210ft shark."

No one has yet disagreed with the theory on TomNod or offered an alternative explanation.

He said he has contacted the federal National Transportation Safety Board and FBI, but not received a response.

The potential development comes just as the authorities say it is unlikely the plane will ever be found.

Seven weeks after the plane vanished with 239 people on board, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said a new phase of the search will focus on a larger area of the Indian Ocean floor.

No wreckage of the Boeing 777, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, has been found on the surface.

Given the length of time spent with the air and surface search, Abbott said underwater equipment capable of scouring the ocean floor with sophisticated sensors would now take priority.

But he also admitted it was possible nothing would ever be found of the jetliner.

"We will do everything we humanly can, everything we reasonably can, to solve this mystery," he said.

Malaysia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Britain and the United States are all still assisting Australia in conducting the most expensive search in aviation history.

But it remains unclear what caused the Boeing 777 to veer sharply off its course and disappear from radar as it prepared to cross into Vietnamese airspace.

Malaysian authorities have still not ruled out mechanical problems, but say evidence suggests it was deliberately diverted from its scheduled route.

Malaysia is under pressure to bring closure to the grieving families by finding wreckage to determine definitively what happened to the aircraft.

But the empty expanse of water northwest of the Australian city of Perth is one of the most remote places in the world and also one of the deepest, making the search complicated.

Authorities had been focusing on a 6.2-square mile stretch of seabed about 2,000 miles from Perth, after detecting what they suspected was a signal from the plane's black box recorder on April 4.

The U.S. Navy Bluefin-21 underwater drone searching the seabed has so far failed to turn up any sign of the plane.

Mr Abbot, speaking in Canberra, added: "We are still baffled and disappointed that we haven't been able to find undersea wreckage based on those detections."

The new search area, which spans 435 miles by 40 miles, could take between six and eight months to completely examine, costing Australia £35 million.

Meanwhile, Exploration company GeoResonance also claims it has identified the jet.

It says it has identified several elements consistent with material from a plane - and they weren't there before the disappearance.

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