group of independent experts -- who prodded authorities to release satellite data on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 -- says it thinks it knows the approximate location of the missing aircraft.
Five separate computer models all place the plane in a tight cluster of spots in the south Indian Ocean — hundreds of miles southwest of the previous search site.
"We recommend that the search for MH370 be focused in this area," the group said in a statement late Tuesday.
"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," according to the statement, which was approved by 10 named experts.
The group opted to release its statement late Tuesday in advance of a BBC documentary on the missing plane, and ahead of the Australian government's announcement on the focus of the search, so that there would be no question about the independence of the group's findings, said one member of the group, American Mobile Satellite Corp. co-founder Mike Exner.
"We wanted to get our best estimate out," Exner said.
The group believes that after the Boeing 777 circumnavigated Indonesia, for reasons that are still unknown, the plane traveled south at an average speed of 470 knots, probably at a consistent altitude and constant heading, Exner said. All five computer models developed by the experts place the aircraft in a "pretty tight cluster...plus or minus 50 miles of each other," he said.
The plane and its 239 occupants vanished March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
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