Fruitless search for MH370 will scour larger area of ocean floor, says Tony Abbott

Lisa Cox
Sydney Morning Herald
April 28, 2014

The search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will enter a new phase after 52 days of searching failed to find any sign of the plane wreckage, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced.

On Monday, Mr Abbott said it was highly unlikely that any debris from the plane would be found on the ocean surface.

But Mr Abbott defended the search operation in the southern Indian Ocean, saying authorities remain confident that signals detected weeks ago were from a black box recorder.

“Most difficult search in human history”: Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the media with the chief of the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

Speaking in Canberra, Mr Abbott said the “most difficult search in human history” would switch its focus to underwater operations over an expanded area – roughly 700 kilometres by 80 kilometres.

The Bluefin-21 submersible, which has been criticised as unreliable, will still be used to search the ocean floor, along with specialised sonar equipment towed by ships that will scan the seabed for wreckage.

“We will do everything we humanly can, everything we reasonably can, to solve this mystery. We will not let people down,” Mr Abbott said.

“While the search will be moving to a new phase in coming weeks, it certainly is not ending.

“By this stage, 52 days into the search, most material would have become waterlogged and sunk.

“With the distances involved, all of the aircraft are operating at close to the limit of sensible and safe operation. Therefore, we are moving from the current phase to a phase which is focused on searching the ocean floor over a much larger area.”

The new search phase will cost “in the order of $60 million”, Mr Abbott said.

MH370 vanished on March 8 carrying 239 people, including six Australians.

It would be a “terrible outcome” for the families of those on board if the plane was not found, Mr Abbott said.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who has been co-ordinating the search, said the revised search could take up to eight months to complete.

He said searchers were still confident they were searching in the right area.

“If everything goes perfectly, I would say we will be doing well if we do it in eight months,” he said.

“But then you have issues, potential issues, with weather, potential issues with equipment. Witness what’s happened with the ‘Bluefin-21′, a number of teething problems with it.”

Mr Abbott defended his handling of the search and his declaration at the time the signals were detected that searchers were confident they were in the right area.

“Our way of operating at all times has been to release credible information as soon as we’ve had it so that we could be as transparent as possible,” Mr Abbott said.

“We still have a considerable degree of confidence that the detections that were picked up using the equipment deployed from Ocean Shield were from a black box recorder.

“We are still baffled and disappointed that we haven’t been able to find undersea wreckage based on those detections.”

A preliminary report into the plane’s disappearance by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation has been handed to Malaysian authorities and is expected to be released to the public this week. The report is expected to recommend real-time tracking of commercial aircraft.

with AAP

  1. #1 by john on Monday, 28 April 2014 - 5:04 pm

    ping, ping, ping ; that’s what they claimed was heard.
    So, MH370 MUST be down there, unless something else, altogether.

  2. #2 by RakishAngle on Monday, 28 April 2014 - 8:17 pm

    Singapore has been rather quiet over this incident apart from the perfunctory despatch of an aircraft to take part in the search in the first few days after MH370’s disappearance. It is indeed surprising that the world media has not noted the fact that Singapore operates a very sophisticated AWACS system which is capable of monitoring all aircraft movement over the airspace of South East Asia. On the morning of March 8th Singapore’s AWACS operators would have noted the strange and suspicious movement of MH370 as it deviated from its planned course and indeed turned rogue as it cut across the Malay Peninsula and then turned southwards over the Indian Ocean. This would have raised alarms in Singapore and the top echelons of the military and political establishment would have been roused from their beds. The erratic flight of the plane showed that MH370 could have been turned a cruise missile for an attack on a target in Singapore. Action stations would have been declared and jet fighters would have been airborne on short order.
    Then what happened next? Did MH370 proceed aimlessly southwards over the Indian Ocean? Or did it turn east towards the Java Sea and then north towards Singapore. Perhaps Singapore knows the answer. Given Singapore’s penchant for the doctrine of forward defence MH370 could well have been blown up over the Java Sea by Singapore’s interceptors. Significantly there were no Singapore citizens on the doomed flight. The search area must now surely be the Java Sea.

    • #3 by pulama on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 - 7:54 am

      That scenario is unlikely. If the missing plane had gone south-east after passing Perak, then Subang would have noticed.

      Some have said it is possible that the flight continued north-west into the northern hemisphere. Inmarsat data simply showed that the satellite communications system remained active for at least 7 hours. Depending on its fuel consumption rate, there was enough fuel to fly 7 hours, maybe a little longer. If somehow the data analysis was incorrect, then the flight could have ended near the northern corridor.

  3. #4 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 - 12:49 am

    Right now, NOT sure if ppl r searching at d RIGHT place
    D search may GO ON – on n on until GE14, judgement DAY

  4. #5 by raven77 on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 - 1:15 am

    IMMARSAT may have been wrong..since in the infamous words of Hishamudin….Immarsat’s pings were never corroborated bcos they used calculations never before used……PM Najib may yet be the most foolish PM the world had yet seen…..

    ..the Ozzies maybe looking in the wrong place……the pings are a mystery…..

  5. #6 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 - 8:39 am

    PING bcomes PONG – now we hv PING PONG, tick tock, tick tock, ……….

  6. #7 by Bunch of Suckers on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 - 3:39 pm

    Well, OXYs are proud of their Alien Technologies given by their Master, the world troublemaker!!!

    Now, they found none!!!!!!!!!!

  7. #8 by john on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 - 8:39 pm

    Further to comment #2;
    then One MAMAK kutty is the one behind all this missing MH370 –
    – this Mamak, got the resources, filthy rich,
    have the secret ‘dark’ ties to do the job ,
    has the most devilish (unrepentant, recalcitrant, envious, ,,, ) Mind / Traits ( RIGHT PROFILE )
    and; got, HIS motive – target Singapore, an island ( if causeway, will be too obvious, point to him ) and AI -as, at that time, then, to divert attention of his trial /sentence.
    Bet ? .

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