New MH370 Search Area Defined

Today Australia, Malaysia and China announced the search area in the southern Indian Ocean, which represents the highest priority for future search efforts for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

An expert satellite working group has reviewed all existing information in order to define a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometers along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the latest search area refinement had involved the efforts and expertise of specialists from around the world.

Specialists have analysed satellite communications information—information which was never initially intended to have the capability to track an aircraft—and performed extremely complex calculations,” Mr Truss said.

“The new priority area is still focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite. We are now shifting our attention to an area further south along the arc based on these calculations.

“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will today release a report outlining the basis on which this search area has been defined.”

Deputy Prime Minister Truss said the search for MH370 continues with a bathymetric survey—or mapping of the ocean floor—in the search area, to be followed by a comprehensive search of the sea floor.

“The bathymetric survey has already commenced, with the Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen and the Australian-contracted vessel Fugro Equator conducting operations in the areas provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau,” Mr Truss said.

“It will take around three months to complete the bathymetric survey.

“The underwater search will aim to locate the aircraft and any evidence to assist with the Malaysian investigation of the disappearance of MH370.”

It is expected that the underwater search will begin in August and take up to 12 months to complete.

Malaysia and Australia are developing a Memorandum of Understanding to determine the areas of cooperation in the search and recovery activities, including financial arrangements.

Malaysia will shortly be announcing the details of the contracted assets that may be deployed as Malaysian Government Furnished Equipment for use in both the bathymetric survey and the search of the sea floor. Survey equipment that has been identified so far includes towed side scan sonar, a multi-beam echo sounder and a sub bottom profiler.

Press Release, June 26, 2014; Image: JACC

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