WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- A non-governmental group of specialists contends Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended in the Indian Ocean, potentially hundreds of miles southwest of the search site.
The group released a report Tuesday, prior to the BBC airing a documentary on the missing plane, and before the Australian government announces the focus of the renewed search. According to Mike Exner, a co-founder of American Mobile Satellite Corp. and a member of the group, the timing of the report was designed to verify the independent nature of its findings.
MH370 has been missing since Mar. 8, when it left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, en route to Beijing. 239 people were on board.
According to the report, which was signed by ten specialists, five different computer models all indicate the plane is in the south Indian Ocean.
"While there remain a number of uncertainties and some disagreements as to the interpretation of aspects of the data, our best estimates of a location of the aircraft (is) near 36.02 South 88.57 East," the report said.
The group was organized through posts on the websites of members Duncan Steel of New Zealand and Tim Farrar of the United States. It noted the plane's contact with a tracking satellite -- in information released publicly by the Malaysia government on May 27 -- assumed the satellite was geostationary, when in fact it drifted to the north and south.
That "breakthrough piece of information," as Exner put it, led to e-mails and other exchanges of information between the group members, until a report was written.
Exner said the group members have volunteered to work with national transportation safety agencies, but governments have been respectful although restrained in sharing information with the group.