MH370 underwater search operation could end by May

A handout photo obtained on Sept 29, 2014 shows the Australian-contracted survey ship Fugro Discovery, which is involved in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. -- PHOTO: AFP PHOTO/FUGRO
A handout photo obtained on Sept 29, 2014 shows the Australian-contracted survey ship Fugro Discovery, which is involved in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. -- PHOTO: AFP PHOTO/FUGRO

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The current underwater search in the area where the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 aircraft was presumed to have gone down may be completed by May next year.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said that if there were no significant delays with vessels, equipment or from the weather, the current underwater search area might be largely completed around May.

"In addition to locating the aircraft, the underwater search aims to map the MH370 debris field in order to identify and prioritise the recovery of specific aircraft components, including flight recorders, which will assist with the Malaysian investigation.

"The ATSB has utilised the data from the bathymetric survey work to prepare the initial plan for the underwater search, to be followed and referred to by all parties involved.

"The plan includes search timings, methods, procedures, safety precautions and the initial search areas for the various vessels," the bureau said.

It also said that the GO Phoenix vessel would continue to conduct underwater search operations, adding that over 11,000 sq km of the seafloor have been searched.

According to ATSB on Wednesday, the Fugro Equator was expected to complete bathymetric survey work in the search area. To date, over 200,000 sq km of the search area had been surveyed.

It also said that the Fugro Discovery experienced a system issue with a component of the search equipment and the problem is being remedied.

"Bathymetry survey vessels spent months at sea, scanning the seafloor with multibeam sonar to gather detailed, high-resolution data," the bureau added.

The ATSB had published a video on its YouTube channel titled Bathymetry of the MH370 Search Area, created by Geoscience Australia, by using data from the survey.

-- SOURCE: GEOSCIENCE AUSTRALIA

The video reveals computer-animated "flythrough" showing a visualisation of the sea floor terrain in the search area of the southern Indian Ocean.

Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board. The plane is believed to have ended its journey in the southern Indian Ocean.