KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 – The search for a missing Malaysian airliner entered its 25th day today, with 10 aircraft and nine ships looking for the Boeing 777-200 plane of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) believed to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean on March 8. The search for the missing flight, MH370, is being conducted out of Perth, Australia, which, at 1,800 km, is the closest to the area of search in the Indian Ocean. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the search area for today’s operation covered about 120,000 sq km.
The weather in the search area was expected to be poor, with areas of low visibility, it added. The 10 planes involved in today’s operation are two Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion, two Malaysian C-130, a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76, a United States Navy P-8 Poseidon, a Japanese Gulfstream jet, a Republic of Korea P-3 Orion, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 and a Japanese P-3 Orion.
“Nine ships have been tasked to search in four separate areas. The Australian defence vessel, Ocean Shield, departed (the naval base) HMAS Stirling on Monday night, with a pinger locator,” it said in a statement on its website Tuesday. On Monday, Australia also established a Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) led by Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Angus Houston in Perth to effectively communicate Australian government activities in relation to the search and recovery operation.
JACC is also aimed at ensuring that the public and other stakeholders, particularly families of the passengers and crew, are well-informed of the progress of the investigation into the missing flight. Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the KL International Airport at 12.41 am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have landed in Beijing at 6.30 am on the same day.
A multinational search was mounted for the aircraft, first in the South China Sea and then, after it was learned that the plane had veered off course, along two corridors – the northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand and the southern corridor, from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
Following an unprecedented type of analysis of satellite data, United Kingdom satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) concluded that Flight MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak then announced on March 24, seventeen days after the disappearance of the aircraft, that Flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.