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Undersea drone hunt for MH370 may take two months

Published on Apr 15, 2014 6:30 PM
 

SYDNEY/PERTH (REUTERS) - A US Navy underwater drone sent to search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on the floor of the Indian Ocean could take up to two months to scour a 600 sq km area where the plane is believed to have sunk, US search authorities said on Tuesday.

The prediction coincided with the end to the abbreviated first mission by the Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle six hours into what was meant to be a 16-hour operation on Monday after it exceeded its 4.5 km depth limit and was automatically returned to the surface.

The introduction of the undersea drone marks a new slower paced phase in the search for the plane which disappeared on March 8 and is presumed to have crashed thousands of kilometres off course with the loss of all 239 people on board.

Authorities, who soon plan to scale back the air and surface search, are confident they know the approximate position of the wreckage of the Boeing 777, some 1,550 km northwest of Perth, and are moving ahead on the basis of four acoustic signals they believe are from its black box recorders.

The Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is hoisted back on board the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force on April 4, 2014. The AUV could take up to two months to scour a 600 sq km area where the plane is believed to have sunk, US search authorities said on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
 
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