Malaysia Flight 370 Search Shifts Northeast

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The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 shifted hundreds of miles northeast on Friday because of new radar data, and U.S. officials said the FBI had found nothing of interest in its much-awaited review of the pilot's flight simulator and other computer files taken from his home. Australian authorities leading the multinational hunt moved their search area after receiving new information on where debris may be located. They had been searching about 1,550 miles southwest of the Australian city of Perth and now are searching due west of the city. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement that the new information from Malaysian investigators indicated the plane was traveling faster than previously estimated when it vanished from radar en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8. The information—based on continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost—suggests the plane used up fuel more quickly, reducing the distance the aircraft traveled south into the Indian Ocean, the authority said.

Australian investigators made clear the shift was made mainly on the basis of fresh analysis of existing data, rather than any new data, adding that they didn't expect further significant adjustments to the search area at this stage. "There is a set of radar data from a number of sources, but most of this work is closer analysis of existing data rather than new radar data coming to light," said Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Authorities said they were likely to encounter more favorable conditions in the redefined area, which is outside a region known as the "Roaring Forties"—characterized by strong winds and high waves. Meanwhile, a Federal Bureau of Investigation search of data on the flight simulator and other computer files taken from the home of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370's pilot hasn't turned up anything that explains what may have happened to the aircraft, according to two officials familiar with the analysis work. The bureau is wrapping up its study of the hard drives this week, and investigators had hoped that a close examination of the data—including deleted files on the flight simulator—might offer new leads to pursue. The FBI has said it would turn over its findings to the Malaysian government.