KUALA LUMPUR - The massive search team scouring the Indian Ocean for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may find the Boeing jetliner intact on the seabed.
Scientists from Malaysia and Australia, who have been sifting through and analysing the data gathered to date, believe that the search team are also pursuing this theory.
"Based on the findings so far and based on the absence of a debris field on the surface, search-and-recovery crews are looking increasingly at the possibility that the aircraft is intact on the ocean floor," said Professor Dr Mohd Fadzil Mohd Akhir, head of the Laboratory of Geology and Physical Oceanography of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.
Fadzil, an expert in geology and physical oceanography, is working closely with a fellow professor, Charitha Pattiaratchi, from the University of Western Australia, Perth, in analysing data on the missing plane. They have about half a decade of experience between them.
Pattiaratchi is the university's School of Environmental Systems Engineering head. He is also a coastal oceanography expert, who has conducted extensive research on the Indian Ocean.
Fadzil and Pattiaratchi are part of a group of experts and scientists collating and analysing data on the missing jetliner. They are in consultation with other experts looking at the case.
Fadzil said these scientists and experts, some of whom are privy to specific information shared only amongst high-level personnel in the search team, were looking at this possibility.
"This group of scientists and experts came to this (that the plane is intact) following their in-depth analysis of the case."
Fadzil said if the airplane had broken up on impact, the search team would have detected identifiable floating debris on the surface of the ocean by now.
"If the plane had disintegrated on impact, even into just two parts, items from the plane, including the seats and life jackets, would have been seen on the surface of the ocean."
Authorities heading the search had said they were confident of finding the plane in about two months after they started deploying the Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).
This is despite initial calculations, which showed that the search would take about four years, based on the colossal search area of 60,000 square kilometres.
Fadzli told the New Straits Times that the search team was looking for the plane within a five to 10km search radius.