An air and sea search for a missing Malaysian passenger jet in the southern Indian Ocean has moved 1,100km north, where a New Zealand air force plane has spotted "objects" that could be related to Flight MH370, Australian authorities said.

The sightings would need to be confirmed by ship, which was not expected until Saturday, the Australian Maritime and Safety Authority (AMSA) said.

The dramatic shift in the search area came after the AMSA coordinating the operation received new information from Malaysia that suggested the plane ran out of fuel earlier than thought.

The shift followed analysis of radar and satellite data that showed the missing plane had travelled faster than had been previously calculated, and so would have burned through its fuel load quicker. 

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"We're still waiting on imagery ourselves," said an AMSA spokesman, according to the AP news agency.

The latest twist underscores the perplexing and frustrating hunt for evidence in the near three-week search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour into a Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight.

Malaysia says the plane was likely diverted deliberately but investigators have turned up no apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers or the 12 crew.

Malaysian officials said the new search area was the result of a painstaking analysis of Malaysian military radar data and satellite readings from British company Inmarsat carried out by US, Chinese, British and Malaysian investigators.

Engine performance analysis by the plane's manufacturer Boeing helped investigators determine how long the plane could have flown before it ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean, they said.

"Information which had already been examined by the investigation was re-examined in light of new evidence drawn from the Inmarsat data analysis," Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference.

For more than a week, ships and surveillance planes have been scouring seas 2,500km southwest of Perth, where satellite images had shown possible debris from Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8.

Ten aircraft searching on Friday were immediately re-directed to the new area of 319,000 km/sq., roughly the size of Poland, around 1,850km west of Perth.

The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation was also redirecting satellites there, AMSA said.

Source: Reuters