Search For Missing Malaysian Airliner Becomes Race Against Time

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 – The search for a missing Malaysian airliner in the southern Indian Ocean entered its 28th day Friday, and has become a race against time as the battery of the black box is due to go dead in two more days. The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) in Perth, Australia, said today the multinational team resumed the search for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 in an area of about 217,000 sq km in the ocean, some 1,700km northwest of Perth.

It said in a statement that up to 10 military planes, four civil jets and nine ships were assisting in today’s search. The search is being conducted out of Perth as it is the nearest city to the area of the search. “Today’s search will focus on three areas within the same vicinity,” said the JACC, which was set up on April 1 to coordinate the search in that ocean. The first aircraft departed for the search area at 6 am. JACC said 26 State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers from Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria were working as air observers on three of the civil aircraft

“The other civil aircraft will operate as a communications relay,” it said. It also said that today’s weather was expected to be fair, with visibility of about 10 km and a cloud base of between 1,000 and 2,000 feet. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau would continue to refine the area where the aircraft might have entered the water, based on continuing ground breaking and multi-disciplinary technical analysis of satellite communication and aircraft performance. The technical analysis was obtained from the international air crash investigative team comprising analysts from Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Australia, JACC said.

The black box contains the voice recorder and flight data recorder that are crucial in determining what happened to the aircraft, which disappeared on March 8. The black box battery can last for 30 days. 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 scheduled to land 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. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak then announced on March 24, 17 days after the disappearance of Boeing 777-200 aircraft, that Flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.

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