Bigger Visual Search Area Planned Sunday – JACC

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PERTH, April 13 – While there have been no confirmation of acoustic detection over the past 48 hours, search in the Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continues Sunday with a bigger search area. Entering its 37th day, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority had planned a visual search area, totalling approximately 57,506 sq km, as compared to 41,393 sq km on Saturday. The assets involved in today’s search had also increased with two more military aircraft joining the operation in addition to nine yesterday. “Up to 11 military aircraft, one civil aircraft and 14 ships will assist in today’s search,” the agency said in a statement today, adding that the centre of the search areas was set approximately 2,200 km north west of Perth. In an effort to narrow the underwater search area in which the autonomous underwater vehicle is deployed, JACC said the Australian defence vessel, Ocean Shield continued more focused sweeps with the towed pinger locator to try and locate further signals related to the aircraft’s black box.

While, the AP-3C Orions continued their acoustic search, the oceanographic ship, HMS Echo was also working in the area with Ocean Shield, it said. “The weather forecast for today is south easterly winds with isolated showers, sea swells up to one metre and visibility of five kms in showers,” it said. Last Wednesday, JACC chief coordinator, Air Chief Marshal, Angus Houston (Retired) said the autonomous underwater vehicle would be deployed once signals could no longer be detected. The authority had estimated the black box’s battery to last ten days longer than its 30-day lifespan before it goes offline from transmitting pulse signals. The aircraft’s black box, comprising a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder, may unlock the questions as to what happened to MH370 which veered thousands of kilometres from its intended Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing route on March 8. Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the KL International Airport at 12.41 am and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later, while over the South China Sea.

It was to have arrived 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, seventeen days after the disappearance of the aircraft, that Flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian ocean”.

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