KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 – The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) had utilised all data from the bathymetric survey work to prepare its initial plan for the underwater search that will be shared to all parties involved.
In a statement on their website, ATSB stated that the plan included search timings, methods, procedures, safety precautions and the initial search areas for the various vessels.
“In addition to locating the aircraft, the underwater search aims to map the MH370 debris field in order to identify and prioritise the recovery of specific aircraft components, including flight recorders, which will assist with the Malaysian investigation.
“Assuming no significant delays with vessels, equipment or from the weather, the current underwater search area may be largely completed around May 2015,” ATSB said in a statement, posted on their website yesterday.
Over 14,000 square kilometres of the seafloor have been searched. ATSB said the Fugro Equator, which had completed the bathymetric survey work on Dec 17 and returned to Freemantle, have been mobilised to conduct underwater search operations on Jan 6.
Fugro Equator had surveyed about 208,000 square kilometres of the search area. Another Malaysian contracted vessel, GO Phoenix, departed from Freemantle on Jan 5 to the search area after it arrived for resupply and operational maintenance on Jan 2.
As for Fugro Discovery, ATSB said it had arrived in Freemantle on Jan 6 also for resupply and operational maintenance and is anticipated to depart for the search on Jan 9. The overall weather conditions were expected to continue to be generally favourable during the summer months, ATSB said.