Why MH370 may NEVER be found major new search for plane facing problems

13-Mar-2018 Intellasia | Daily Star | 6:00 AM Print This Post

THE massive new ocean search for wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is already running into problems sparking fears the missing plane may never be found.

The flight carrying 239 people vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, above the Indian Ocean.

No distress signals were ever sent and the doomed aircraft disappeared from air traffic control (ATC) radar before it is believed to have flown for six hours and crashed into the sea.

A major three-year search covering 46,000sq m of the Indian Ocean, about 1,100 miles west of Perth, Australia, was called off in January last year after failing to locate the wreckage.

Now Ocean Infinity has launched a huge “no win, no fee” hunt based on a new priority 25,000sq km area in the Indian Ocean.

But this week two senior crew members revealed hazardous conditions are hampering their efforts.

Malaysia’s government has vowed to pay the US company up to $70 million (GBP 50 million) if it can find the wreckage or black boxes within three months.

Ocean Infinity’s 65-crew Seabed Constructor, which is carrying eight automated underwater vehicles (AUVs) that will scour the seabed, arrived at the key location in January.

Having covered more than 20,000 of the 25,000sq km, the task at hand is already proving daunting.

The underwater search at depths of 6km has to contend with pitch-black darkness, crushing pressure and ice-cold water.

“They (searchers) are working at the extreme edge of what’s capable,” said South African salvage master Nick Sloane, who led the operation to recover the stricken Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia.

The AUVs are drones fitted with hi-tech cameras, sonars and sensors dispatched to map the seabed and can cover up to 1,200sq kms every day.

But the treacherous hilly seabeds can be a major hazard to the deep-sea robots.

The Royal Malaysia Navy has two officers Azmi Rosedee and Adbul Halim Ahmad Nordin on board the Seabed Constructor.

They told the New Strait Times: “We are giving our utmost to find the plane.

“We have gone through a number of rough days, days which we would not have been able to survive without having perseverance and a strong will.

“Operations continue even when the sea is rough, but it makes it difficult for us to deploy and recover the AUVs.

“This slows us down.

“Aside from that, the seabed of the search areas is hilly and uneven.

“This also disrupts the AUV’s capability to thoroughly sweep the areas.”

MH370 debris has been recovered off the African coast in places such as Mauritius, Reunion Island, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Malaysian authorities believe there is an 85 percent chance of finding MH370 wreckage in the new search zone.

Although the challenges facing Ocean Infinity are huge, they are not impossible.

Wreckage has been recovered from such depths previously such as Air France 447 at nearly 4 km in the Atlantic.

“We have a relatively high degree of confidence that if the wreckage is in the area that we’re searching we will detect it,” said a spokesperson for Ocean Infinity.

“Clearly there is no guarantee of success.

“The area that has been selected for us to search is the result of extensive analysis by a great many experts who have looked at all of the facts, including calculating the tidal flows and drift patterns of certain pieces of wreckage that were washed up.” The spokesperson said it is “committed to run the search for 90 days” and expect to exceed the size of the proposed search by “some margin”.

Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia, said: “If they don’t find anything in the 90 days, I think that would be the end for decades.



Category: Malaysia

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