The missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 | the search continues

6 months later, the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 continues…. I thought this writeup By David Fickling, at Bloomberg | September 11, 2014 was interesting and worthy of a repeat here, which highlighted the numerous developments and the many difficulties encountered. …

(Bloomberg) — The first boat being used in a resumed deep-sea search for Malaysian Airline System Bhd. flight 370 has embarked for the southern Indian Ocean, as investigators said three zones would be a priority.


Flying high forever

The Malaysian-contracted GO Phoenix vessel departed from Singapore Sept. 9 and will receive instructions about its search zone within days, Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said in an interview.

The deep-sea sonar search of the 60,000 square-kilometer (23,000 square-mile) zone off the coast of Western Australia is the best hope of finding the remains of the Boeing Co. 777-200, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The only clues to the aircraft’s final resting place have been data exchanges with an Inmarsat Plc satellite, which indicated it ditching somewhere along an arc of ocean west of Perth.

“We’re now at the point where we can say we’ve pretty much got a sequence of priority areas along the arc,” Dolan said in the interview yesterday. “We know the first place we’ll be searching and we’ll be formalizing the tasking for that within the next few days.”

The yearlong search to begin later this month will be the second time that investigators have sent submersibles down into the deep ocean in search of debris from the plane, particularly the flight data and voice recorders which could help explain its disappearance.

Final Resting Place

A search spanning 850 square kilometers in an area where sounds similar to those of black box emergency beacons were heard by an Australian search vessel in early April turned up no evidence of aircraft debris.

That region, in tropical waters to the north of the current search zone, “can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, an Australian government body working on the search, said May 29.

Survey vessels have spent the past four months carrying out less detailed surface surveys of the ocean floor, which incorporates ridges, trenches, undersea mountains, and featureless plains. That will help guide the deep-sea search.

“We can see extinct volcanoes, 2,000-meter cliffs,” Dolan said.

Heavy Seas

The boat-based scans have found some areas that appear harder than the surrounding terrain, but “the geoscience professionals have been saying we’re pretty sure they’re geological,” he said.

Such anomalies can be caused by rocky outcrops amid silt or changing rock types, Dolan said. It’s “highly unlikely” that any wreckage would have disappeared beneath an undersea rockfall, he said.

Heavy seas in the region have affected survey work being carried out by the Fugro Equator, a vessel operated by Leidschendam, Netherlands-based Fugro NV, according to a statement posted yesterday on the ATSB’s website.

Fugro won an Australian government tender to carry out the 12-month deepwater search and will deploy the Equator and the Fugro Discovery. The GO Phoenix is contracted to the Malaysian government.

ATSB officials are trying to work out how best to deploy the vessels and will send them initially to three different zones, Dolan said. If any zone appears more interesting, two of the vessels could be moved to study it more intensely.

“We’ve had really good vessels and equipment, and highly skilled crew,” he said. “If all that comes together I’m cautiously optimistic.”

The article extracted from PropertyCasualty360.

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