Australia says that the bathymetric survey of ocean floor where the lost Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is suspected to have crashed is well underway.
Two vessels are conducting the work, the Fugro Equator and Chinese survey ship Zhu, while the Australian Transport Safety Bureau assesses tenders related to an upcoming underwater search for the Boeing 777-200ER.
“The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared on 8 March on a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, continues uninterrupted,” the country’s minister for infrastructure and regional development, Warren Truss, says in a statement.“We remain fully committed to conducting a thorough undersea search of the likely impact zone in the Indian Ocean.”
Truss adds that the underwater search is likely to commence in September and take up to 12 months to complete.
“It will aim to locate the aircraft and any evidence (such as debris and the flight recorders) to assist the Malaysian investigation of the disappearance of MH370,” he says.
The statement follows the departure of the head of the country’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), Angus Houston, to Ukraine. Houston is assisting in recovery efforts related to another Malaysia Airlines 777-200ER, which was shot down over the Eastern Ukraine on 17 July while operating a Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight.
The MH17 shootdown resulted in the loss of 298 lives, of whom 27 were Australian nationals.
In Houston's absence, the JACC is being overseen by deputy coordinator Judith Zielke.