Australian scientists at the CSIRO say they have uncovered the "most likely" location of the MH370 aircraft wreckage, according to a new report released on Friday.
Research conducted by the CSIRO and presented in a report to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) used ocean drift modelling and part of a Boeing 777 wing, called a flaperon, to determine the movement of the doomed Malaysia Airlines plane and pinpoint its possible location to a 25,000 sq km area north of the original search zone.
The findings support the conclusions of a First Principles Review report handed to the ATSB in November 2016, which recommended a new search area in the Indian Ocean, and provide an "added extra level of assurance" when it comes to locating the wreckage according to researchers.
Lead researcher for the report, Dr David Griffin of the CSIRO said the study using replica wing parts was conducted to test ocean movement in light of a flaperon from the actual MH370 wreckage which was found washed up on the shore of French island, La Reunion, in the Indian Ocean in July 2015.
"Testing an actual flaperon has added an extra level of assurance to the findings from our earlier drift modelling work," he said.
"We've found that an actual flaperon goes about 20 degrees to the left, and faster than the replicas, as we thought it might. The arrival of MH370's flaperon at La Reunion in July 2015 now makes perfect sense.
"We add both together in our model to simulate the drift across the ocean, then compare the results with observations of where debris was and wasn't found, in order to deduce the location of the aircraft."
While Griffin admits it remains difficult to pinpoint exactly where the wreckage may still be floating, he said the findings allow for more confidence when looking in the recommended new search area.
"We cannot be absolutely certain, but that is where all the evidence we have points us, and this new work leaves us more confident in our findings," he said.
After the exhaustive search for the MH370 wreckage was officially called off in January, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester responded to the CSIRO's findings on Friday saying he welcomes the report, but that "it does not provide new evidence" in the hunt for the missing plane.
"I welcome the CSIRO report but it is important to note that it does not provide new evidence leading to a specific location of MH370," he said in a statement.
"This body of 'drift modelling' work, along with review of satellite imagery, forms part of the ongoing activities being undertaken by the ATSB in the search for MH370.
"The CSIRO report has been provided to Malaysia for consideration in its ongoing investigation into the disappearance of MH370."
Authorities from Malaysia, Australia and China suspended the search after nearly three years of looking and Australia contributing $60 million to a $200-million-dollar underwater search effort, which was the largest in aviation history.
MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, sparking a massive, multi-million dollar and multi-nation search for the plane over a 120,000 sq km stretch of the Indian Ocean.
Six Australians were on board.
In July 2016, authorities warned the search would be suspended if no new results were found, which a statement in January confirmed. To date no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft.
Traces of the plane have been found washed up on the island country Mauritius, the French island Reunion and an island off the coast of Tanzania.
Timeline of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
March 8, 2014: MH370 flight departs from Kuala Lumpur, en route to Beijing, and loses contact with air traffic control
March 8,2014: A full-scale international search and rescue operation begins. Authorities target waters between Vietnam and Malaysia.
March 13, 2014: Search fails to find trace of MH370 where Chinese satellites spotted three "floating objects" in the ocean.
March 16, 2014: Malaysia calls for help from 25 countries, as search expands across 11 countries.
March 18, 2014: Australia leads new search for wreckage 3,000 kilometres south-west of Perth.
April 4, 2014: Malaysian authorities release transcript of pilot communication with the final words "all right, good night".
April 6, 2014: Black box was thought to be detected off Perth with signals detected, however signals fell silent days later. No trace of the missing plane was found.
April 30, 2014: Aerial search ends and the preliminary report is released the following day.
June 10, 2014: Search coordinator says the search could take more than two years.
October 8, 2014: Search moves south, off the Western Australian coast after Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed an underwater search would take place in September. Australia signed a $50 million contract to use two vessels for the search.
January 29, 2015: Malaysia announced all 239 passengers and crew are presumed dead, and MH370 declared an accident.
March 7, 2015: Malaysia's transport minister says new plan will be formulated and data will be re-examined.
July 29, 2015: Debris found on French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.
May 10, 2016: Fragment of plane wing found is in Mauritius, and later identified as part if MH370. It is one of 33 pieces suspected to be from the missing flight.
July 22, 2016: Officials announce the search for MH370 will be called off if plane is not found by December.
January 17, 2016: Search for MH370 officially called off.
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