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Intensive MH370 debris-drift study planned

AAP logoAAP 24/08/2016

MH370 searchers are modelling the drift of debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, saying the information won't on its own point to a precise location, but may help.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau says it has been working with the CSIRO to model the drift of the debris over the past 18 months and a further intensive study will be undertaken in coming months.

"It is hoped ... that when added to our existing knowledge and any future learnings, a specific location of the aircraft will be able to be identified," the ATSB said in its weekly search update on Wednesday.

Last month, a wing part found in Tanzania was the sixth fragment confirmed as either being definitely from or "almost certainly" from the Boeing 777.

The ATSB says a wing part, called a flaperon, which was found on the island of Reunion in July last year, was particularly important as it was the first piece to be found and therefore had spent the least amount of time adrift.

The forthcoming study will involve setting adrift buoys along with models of the flaperon fitted with satellite trackers.

"The models will be tracked to establish the rate and direction of drift relative to the drifter buoys in open ocean conditions when subject to similar winds, currents and waves," the ATSB said.

"Thirty years of real life Global Drifter Program data will then be used to model the drift of the flaperon."

Australian, Chinese and Malaysian transport ministers recently announced the search would be suspended unless credible new evidence emerged about the specific location of the aircraft.

Less than 10,000 square kilometres of the southern Indian Ocean search area is yet to be combed.

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