Project370: The Plan
(Geeky stuff but worth a read...)
A bit of background:
Project370 is not a tiny group of internet forum-potatoes mucking about with things which, in the views of some politicians, are best left to governments.
Firstly, it is a formally registered and accountable charity. Doing this first was a vital step to ensure accountability.
Next, this is NOT being done for fame, fortune or recognition. Nobody involved seeks to make any money from the project - nor can they.
As proof of the foregoing statement, the board took a decision - at the end of its second quarter 2017 - to offer to return all donations made via our public campaign by private individuals, to those who made them. Key to this decision was a desire to ensure that nobody felt that their funds had been mis-appropriated or abused.
The board is actively engaged with several foundations which fund scientific work to attempt to obtain the funds needed to get a survey ship out to sea as soon as possible.
This is being done because we all feel we owe it to our human brothers and sisters most intensely affected by this tragedy to solve this mystery.
Furthermore, the world simply must find answers so that the aviation industry can prevent this loss from happening again. This will be to the benefit of all humankind.
The volunteers are each uniquely skilled in their careers. Currently we have a group of volunteers that includes aviation accident investigators with deep sea airliner accident experience, avionics experts, remote sensing professionals, oceanographers, pilots, aerodynamic experts, statisticians, aviation journalists and deep-sea survey professionals.
All have volunteered their expertise and time to collaborate with us. Even so, this is a huge undertaking and we will welcome anyone's input. If you feel you would like to add your time and expertise to the group, you are most welcome to get in touch with us.
Project370 has already approached the most suitable, expert survey and ROV firms in the world to do the work of searching for, locating and imaging the wreckage based on analysis of the best, most up-to-date data.
All official, government funded efforts to date have also merely determined search areas and then contracted independent marine survey firms to do the actual work. In this respect, Project370 is doing exactly what official efforts did - although with no salaries or other monthly running costs to add to the budget, it is a much more efficient and direct use of funds raised and allocated with which to achieve the end result everyone desires.
When the authorities from Australia and Malaysia first sent out survey ships to the far South of the Indian Ocean to try and look for the missing airliner, they had determined their search area using the best data then available.
No floating debris had yet been recovered and so electronic data was used from the INMARSAT company to work out where the aircraft might have gone.
This work was incredibly complicated and had never before been used to determine an aircraft's track. That this was possible at all is an achievement in itself and those involved in this work deserve every bit of thanks and praise. Subsequent events seem to have confirmed that they were correct in their estimates in a general sense. Not pin-point accurate, but in the right part of the world.
We know this because the debris that was subsequently discovered on beaches of the western Indian Ocean in places such as Mauritius, East africa and South Africa, could ONLY have originated in the Indian Ocean.
Why Project370 will be highly cost-effective: A further aspect of the official search undertaken - and this accounted for almost a third of all the money spent on the search - was that the official searchers prefaced all work with bathymetric scans.
The experts to be contracted by Project370 have advised that bathymetric pre-scanning is not needed for the initial proposed arget area as they have previoulsy operated in the area. This means they can start sonar scans without delay and deliver maximum bang for the buck.
Project370's proposed survey contractor - Williamson and Associates - has a proud record of achievement completing difficult surveys.
Initial survey area:
This is to be a sweep of the "seventh arc" region north of the area already searched by the contractors hired by the ATSB.
What makes us doubly sure this area makes sense, is that there are now three, relatively closely correlated co-ordinates which have been arrived at by using a combination of the BTO data from the satellite pings (giving longitude guidance) and drift modelling of the recovered debris (which provides latitude guidance).
Project 370 has also determined the locations of all commercial vessels which were in the area on the day of the loss of 9M-MRO and int he week thereafter. We are progressively interviewing the companies and crew members of these vessels to obtain as much first-hand evidence of possible debris sightings (and in some cases photographs) as we can gather.
Many scientists who have cross-checked the data, or have tackled the problem from a clean sheet point of view, such as those at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and GEOMAR, have come to similar general conclusions as to the most likely area where the aircraft might be located. All these areas are well north of the area already searched by the surveyors contracted by the ATSB.
One of the earliest co-ordinates put out in public using these methods was derived by US statistician Mike Chillit. He has also been looking at this problem for several years. His co-ordinates are also within the bounds determined by GEOMAR and UWA
Further south (certainly at or below 30 deg S), the data models used by all three sets of research, indicate that debris would have been found all over Australia's western beaches. This has not happened. To date, not one item has been reported as having been found there.
Further north and floating debris would have gone to South East Asia. Again, nothing has been reported - to date - as having been found there.
Project370 is thus of the view that it makes sense, once the funds needed to place a search vessel in the area have been secured, to be prepared to scan the entire sweep containing the most commonly agreed upon zones as they are within a reasonable distance of each other.
Sea search Phase One: Ocean Survey
Newest technology: WA30 survey system we intend to utilise, scans a 6km wide swathe of seafloor at high resolution in every pass
After reviewing the resumes, equipment, capabilities and experience of the world's deep-sea ocean survey firms, Project370 has identified a company with whom it will partner to conduct the initial, deep-sea sidescan sonar survey of our first target area. In short, this firm is without peer in the realm of ocean surveys.
Extremely favourable quotations have been provided and a good deal of co-operative work has already been undertaken.
Now, the next step is to actually get out to sea and deploy the sidescan equipment.
This is where the big money - although not nearly as much as has been committed to date by the good people of Australia via their government but more than our group of volunteers can shake from our piggy-banks - is needed.
Feeding the ships and those sailing them, as well as keeping their gadgets powered-up long enough to search the entire area likely to contain the aircraft will cost roughly US$4 million.
Once the sonar survey has been completed and targets identified which are most likely the remains of the missing aricraft, the project will then move to phase two of the physical search.