MH370: the search nears its end

If the multinational team searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH370 does not find the wreck by mid-2016, the search will stop and the loss of the flight will remain a mystery.

Termination at that point, when the designated remaining search area has been covered, has been agreed by the Malaysian, Chinese and Australian partners in the search effort.

The search has suffered numerous snags recently, but the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and its Chinese and Malaysian partners have emphasised their commitment to search another 35,000 square kilometres of the ocean floor before they abandon the attempt. The team, says the ATSB, is also committed to MH370’s recovery, if found.

Ironically, one of the snags that has delayed the latest stage of the search process has proven once again that the technology the team is using will definitely identify the MH370 wreck if they look in the right place. When one of the deep-tow sonar vehicles recently hit a sea-bed mountain and was severed from its mother-ship Fugro Discovery, deployment of a remotely operated vehicle quickly found it, relayed a clear picture of it to the crew, and established the connections that enabled its recovery.

lost-towfish-on-ocean-floor

The area already searched amounts to 85,000 sq km, the entire search pattern based on the “7th arc”, the linear location indicated by the last satellite signal received from the missing aircraft.

Fugro search latest

The extended 35,000 sq km search continues to use the 7th arc as the prime indicator of where the aircraft could be, but further to the south-west around the arc.

If the Joint Agency Coordination Centre search assumptions, which tally with several independent calculations of where MH370 could be, are indeed correct, the wreck will be found within approximately the next six months.

If not, MH370 will become one of the great travel mysteries of all time.

2 thoughts on “MH370: the search nears its end

  1. Excellent summary, David

    My hunch is still that the wreckage will never be found – and I take no pleasure in saying that…!

    As I think you once wrote – perhaps one day in the future a few bits may appear on a beach somewhere – who knows – and even then the best one can hope for is that the beach has some combers on it – other than Penguins!

    Do please keep me on your list – I enjoy greatly reading your articles …

    Best … Reg Pycroft

    Sent from my iPhone on the road…

    >

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  2. A few months ago, the head of the search team in the ATSB, Martin Dolan, admitted that they may have missed MH370 during their sonar sweep and are relying on a synthetic aperture sonar device to take a second look at terrain unsuitable for the side scan sonar units to properly image. This SAS device is on board the Chinese ship, the same one they lost and had to recover but is now waiting out the winter conditions before it can be launched again.
    All of this is very upsetting. It doesn’t make any sense to hire a company like Fugro to search for this plane when their technology isn’t fully up to the task. Yes they have shown great sonar images of a couple lost ships on the bottom of the ocean, but Dolan admits that the terrain is just too difficult in some places for their technology to completely search the entire area.
    Why did they opt for this? Why didn’t they award the contract to a company who uses the proper sonar equipment that can image the terrain completely over the first initial sonar sweep? To me, their logic and plan of action is backwards. What a gong show.

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