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Survey ships set to grapple with MH370 search

As the underwater search for the lost Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 resumes, Australian authorities have underlined the challenges inherent in finding the aircraft.

“The complexities surrounding the search cannot be understated,” says the Australian Safety Transport Bureau. “It involves vast areas of the Indian Ocean with only limited known data and aircraft flight information. While it is impossible to determine with certainty where the aircraft may have entered the water, all the available data and analysis indicates a highly probable search area close to a long but narrow arc of the southern Indian Ocean.”

Following a bathymetric survey that mapped the ocean floor in areas that are deemed to be the most likely resting places of the Boeing 777-200ER that disappeared with 239 passengers and crew aboard on 8 March, the underwater search has resumed. The search centres on the "southern arc", where the aircraft made its last satellite transmission before running out of fuel and crashing into the sea.

While the bathymetric survey will continue to be conducted by the Fugro Equator survey ship, two other vessels have been deployed to the area for the search, Fugro Discovery and GO Phoenix.

MH370 underwater search area

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ATSB

GO Phoenix has arrived in the search area, and commenced search operations. Fugro Discovery is in port at Fremantle, and will depart for the search area on 11 October.

“The ATSB, in consultation with the contracted search experts, is in the process of finalising the plan for the underwater search, to be followed and referred to by all parties involved,” says the statement. “The plan will include search timings, methods, procedures, safety precautions and search areas. The initial search areas have been identified and allocated to the different search vessels.”

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