SEPANG, March 21 – The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will continue even after the end of 30 days, which is when the black box batteries will run out, as there are other technologies that could be used for the search and rescue (SAR) operation. Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said based on the information given by the French team involved in the search for Air France 447, other SAR technologies could be used after 30 days of unfruitful search. He said the search for the missing aircraft was a long haul effort.
“We will continue the search, we are still determined to find and to rescue (those involved),” he said, while expressing hope that the aircraft would be found before the search entered its 30th day. Hishammuddin said this at the daily press conference on the latest development related to the search for MH370 here today. The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board, disappeared about an hour after leaving the KL International Airport at 12.41 am on March 8. It was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6.30 am on the same day. The fate of the passengers is unknown as the multi-national search for the aircraft has drawn a blank so far. The French Aviation Safety Agency (BEA) team arrived on Monday to assist the Malaysia-led international investigating team in the search for the missing aircraft, with their focus on undersea search.
In 2009, the BEA team was involved with the Air France 447 crash that killed all 228 people aboard, and the black box of the unfortunate plane was only found two years after the tragedy. The search for MH370 has been extended to cover a large tract west of Malaysia, including the Indian Ocean, when it was learned that the plane had veered off course after someone deliberately switched off the communication system on board and the plane had flown for seven hours after that. The search is also focused on two corridors, namely the northern corridor which stretches from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, and the southern corridor which stretches from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. Hishammuddin said Malaysia was in the midst of discussing with a team of French experts concerning the use of other technologies, other than the black box, to locate the aircraft.
He also said he had been in contact with few leaders of countries which had the pinger locator hydrophones technology that was used by the French investigation team to locate Air France 447’s black box. “Only limited countries have the capabilities and I have been talking to the leaders of those countries for the possibility of using the technology,” he said. On the updates of the satellite images regarding two objects located in the south Indian Ocean, Hishammuddin said as of 5.40pm today, there was no positive breakthrough from Australian authorities. Describing the image of the object as ‘a speck in the ocean’, he said the experts would be able to differentiate one speck in the ocean from another. Hishammuddin reiterated that the southern corridor had always been a challenge in this search and rescue operations.
“I would have to thank the Australian authorities and also expertise from the United States. I would be seeking further assistance from the U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel later today. “Malaysia will be asking the U.S to send underwater vehicles for deep-sea salvage as part of a joint-multinational effort to find the missing passenger jet,” he said. Hishammuddin said he would reveal the next plan in the southern corridor, in the event the SAR operation failed to find the objects linked to the missing aircraft. “The southern corridor faces its own challenges, such as the weather, the depth of sea and waves. If we do not find it within 30 days, then it raises other issues on how to locate it, and how the French investigation team took two years, and that comes into a different realm of SAR,” he said.