AMSA: New MH370 search area is west of PerthThursday, 27 Mar 2014 | 11:35 PM ETAustralian authorities said on Friday that 6 ships and 10 aircrafts were being sent to a new search area that is roughly 123,200 square miles and 1,250 miles west of Perth.
The search area of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet has shifted northeast of where a multinational team of investigators had been looking for debris because of a "new credible lead," Australian authorities said Friday morning local time.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it shifted the search roughly 680 miles to the northeast after getting a lead premised on updated advice from the international investigative team in Malaysia.
(Read more: Doomed Malaysia Air flight 'lost beyond doubt')
Australian authorities rejected the suggestion that the past week's searching has been a waste of time, stating at a news conference that "the search to date [is] what we had at the time."
But it is hard to come to any other conclusion except that - apart from ruling out the old area - they've wasted valuable time in the race to find the Boeing 777.
Investigators are also under pressure to explain why it has taken nearly 21 days for a fresh analysis of the radar data to come up with such a dramatically different location.
The Australians cautioned that the new search zone "remains a very large area" - at least 123,000 square miles, larger than New Mexico - and that "this has a long way to go yet."
However, in a subtle change of language, they talked about "the crash point" and "the entry point" rather than a debris field, suggesting they are more confident about the plane's final flight path and that they believe this really is the place where it went down.
Ten planes were leaving Perth on Friday, heading for the new zone.
Six ships, five of them Chinese, which were in the old area are now being re-tasked to sail north. Satellites are being re-tasked to photograph the new area.
All the previous satellite images of potential objects – including a Thai image issued Thursday apparently showing around 300 pieces of possible debris – are now being discounted. By implication, those images were seeing ocean junk, not wreckage from a missing plane.
(Read more: Hope of breakthrough in missing Malaysia Air jet search)
And there was one further setback amid the dramatic news: the Australian naval vessel Ocean Shield, which will tow the U.S. black box "pinger locator" across the search zone, was meant to have docked in Perth early Friday. Instead, it will arrive "in the coming days," Australian officials said.
Why does this matter? By the time the locator is fitted and towed out to the new search area, the batteries in MH370's black boxes will begin to fade and die, as they are designed to do after 30 days. We are now on day 21. The signal searchers are listening for will get weaker by the day.
It may not have been efficient, but search now has a new life. Search crews are said to be reinvigorated. Visibility is good. For the relatives of those missing, this may be small comfort, but the net may finally be closing on Flight MH370.