Australia, the US and NZ are sending planes to search for the missing Malaysia Airline’s jet off the West Australian coast in an area the size of France.
Australian authorities are also speaking to China about the possibility of sending aircraft to help with the search.
The southern corridor covers a remote part of the world but the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s emergency response general manager John Young said today a number of ships do pass through the area en route to Africa.
The search area is over 600,000 square kilometres, which Young describes as the equivalent of finding a “needle in a hay stack”.
The search area is based on speed and endurance equations from the point of the aircraft’s last known contact.
Currently four RAAF and one NZ Orion plane, as well as one US Poseidon aircraft will be sent out to the area to conduct a surface search.
“We’re not looking in the water at all, it’s purely a surface search looking for debris or objects in the water,” an ADF spokesperson said.
AMSA estimates a thorough search could take a few weeks.
“We will be assessing progress every day and will be moving the search area according to water and weather influences every day,” Young said.
“It’s a large area towards the end of the [search] aircrafts’ operating limits and they only get a short time in the search area – it’s going to take a long time.”
The water in the search area is very deep and the AMSA will also be using satellite imagery as well as radar and infrared.
Young said the mission’s goal is to find anyone alive, if anyone has survived and to prove or discount the theory that the aircraft travelled south.
“We’re taking this search very seriously – I describe it as a possibility, the aircraft could’ve gone north or south, this is the Australian Maritime’s best guess as to where the aircraft went,” he said.
“This search is not based on any theories as to what might have happened on board the aircraft but where the aircraft might have went.”
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