In what must as the most significant act of rapprochement in the history of underwater aircraft-accident investigation, it was learned today that the Fugro Equator, a bathymetry vessel contracted to map the seabed as part of the Australian government’s efforts to locate missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, has begun exploring the area that the Independent Group has identified as the jet’s most likely resting place. The chart above, supplied by Geoff Hyman [update 10/3/14: I’ve replaced it with a newer image from Don Thompson], shows the course of the Equator’s recent progress in red. The center of the Independent Group’s recommended area is marked with a blue cross. For months, the Australian Transport Safety Board has been focussing on an area hundreds of miles to the northeast, on the basis that flight routes that best fit Inmarsat data are most likely to terminate in such an area. The Independent Group has taken a different approach, and focused on routes that are both psychologically plausible and comport better with the way that airliners are actually flown. It is not known if the Equator’s current search zone indicates that the ATSB has come around to the independent expert’s line or reasoning, or is simply being thorough in mapping the entire zone where the plane might have come to rest.