Tag Archives: Perth

Bluefin submersible fails to find Boeing 777 on designated search area

Bluefin-21 submersible

SYDNEY, April 28

Bluefin-21 submersible has finished the exploration of the area, which was initially designated for it to search for missing Malaysian Boeing 777 and failed to find any objects of interest, according to representatives of the search coordination center that continues operating in Australia’s Perth.

Despite lack of results, the rescuers decided to continue using the submersible: at present, Bluefin-21 is making its 16th immersion and explores the bottom of neighboring sections.

On Sunday, there were no search operations involving planes and ships due to a strong storm in the ocean. On Monday, weather conditions improved, and it made possible to go on with the search operation. In the course of the day, nine planes and 12 ships will be monitoring a 54,920 square km area in some 1,670 km from Perth.

Vanished airliner

Boeing 777-200 of Malaysian Airlines was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing March 7. It carried 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers onboard. Communication with the jet was interrupted nearly two hours after its departure from the Malaysian capital. Since then, there was no information about the missing airliner.

March 24, the air carrier issued a statement informing about the death of all people who were onboard of the missing plane.

According to experts, the search operation involving 26 countries may become the most expensive in aviation’s history. $44 million are already spent on the search, and the overall expenditures may reach several hundreds of millions of dollars.

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MH370 search could take years, U.S. navy official says, as nations race to find black box before its too late

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could take years, a senior U.S. Navy official said Sunday, as search and rescue officials raced to locate the plane’s black box recorder days before its batteries are set to die.

Ten ships and as many aircraft are searching a massive area in the Indian Ocean west of Perth, in Australia, trying to find some trace of the aircraft, which went missing more than three weeks ago and is presumed to have crashed.

The Malaysian government announced moves to tighten airport security, but the head of the U.S. senate intelligence committee said there was no evidence that terrorism had any role to play in the flight’s disappearance. “There’s speculation, but there’s nothing,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein. “This is a very difficult mission.”

Among the vessels to join the search is an Australian defence force ship, the Ocean Shield, that has been fitted with a sophisticated U.S. black box locator and an underwater drone.

Captain Mark Matthews, a U.S. navy officer who is in charge of the black box pinger detector, said the search area of 123,000 square miles needs to be significantly reduced before there is any serious prospect of finding the black box.

“Right now the search area is basically the size of the Indian Ocean, which would take an untenable amount of time to search,” he said.

Todd Curtis, an aviation expert and former Boeing engineer, warned that the hunt for the plane could last for years.

He said the black box was unlikely to be found before its 30-day pinger, which helps searchers to locate both the box and the plane, runs out of battery life in about a week.

“The likelihood of finding the plane quickly, especially given the pinger will soon end, is going down astronomically,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“Even if they found the debris today, there is the problem of estimating where it drifted over the past three weeks and then estimating the new area. It all has the potential to take much more than two years.”

Dr Curtis said the search was likely to be “very prolonged” and may end in failure. “There is a chance they will never find the plane,” he said.

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The failure to find any wreckage from the plane has been harrowing for the families of the 239 passengers, many of whom continue to cling to the hope that survivors will be found.

Twenty-nine distraught Chinese family members flew to Malaysia yesterday, demanding that the authorities “reveal the truth” and “hand over the murderer.” At an emotive press conference they chanted: “We want the evidence, we want the truth, we want our families back.”

 National Post.

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Hunt begins to find black boxes for doomed Flight MH370

 

Now that satellite data has confirmed that the missing Malaysian airliner crashed into the Indian Ocean, the race is on to find the crucial voice and data recorders, the so-called black boxes, before a battery-powered homing device runs out.

After a 17-day wait for confirmation that the Boeing 777, one of the world’s most reliable planes, was lost with 239 people on board somewhere over the southern Indian Ocean, a United Nations search team is working round the clock to try and pinpoint the so-called black boxes.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Tuesday that the search area had been narrowed down to an area about the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined.

But Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Australia’s deputy defense chief, issued a sobering reminder of how challenging the search will be.

“We’re not searching for a needle in a haystack – we’re still trying to define where the haystack is.”

The search is made all the more urgent because the battery-powered ping the black boxes emit, a kind of homing signal to help locate them, is only sent out for around 30 days after a crash – before the batteries run out. This leaves another 15 days or so to find them.

But so far the growing international team scouring the southern Indian Ocean has not found any wreckage or debris that can definitely be linked to the plane.

Although British satellite company Inmarsat has said for sure that Flight MH370 went down in a southern corridor of the Indian Ocean and several countries have reported finding floating debris, the exact position of where the plane crashed into the sea is still a mystery.

Eight satellite pings were sent by the aircraft between 1.11 am and 8.11 am – over eight hours after it officially lost contact with air traffic controllers.

The new method “gives the approximate direction of travel, plus or minus about 100 miles, to a track line,” Chris McLaughlin, senior vice-president for external affairs at Inmarsat, told Sky News. “Unfortunately this is a 1990s satellite over the Indian Ocean that is not GPS-equipped.”

With a lack of definite information experts in weather patterns and ocean currents will try and direct those scouring the waves to pinpoint where the plane went down.

We’ve got to get lucky. It is a race to get to the area in time to catch the black box pinger while it’s still working,” John Goglia, a former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board, told AP.

Plan A: Pinger locators from US

The US Navy’s Pacific Fleet is part of the international flotilla amassing over 2,300 kilometers west of Perth, Australia, and one of the Navy’s towed pinger locators is en route to the search area, AP reports.

This crucial bit of kit is a 30-inch long cylindrical microphone, which is towed slowly underwater in a grid pattern behind a ship. It can pick up a ping from a black box – which is actually a red cylinder – from about a mile away.

The microphone is attached to about 20,000 feet of cable and is guided deep underwater by a yellow triangular carrier with a wing span of 3 feet and a shark’s fin on top that looks akin to a stingray.

Human operators and computers on board the ship listen for any signals that may locate the ping.

As well as the towed ping locator, the Australian Navy is sending the ship Ocean Shield to the area, which is equipped with acoustic detention equipment.

Plan B: Sonars to scour seabed

If no strong signals are detected from the black boxes before their batteries run out then the search teams must move to system known as side-scan sonar.

These devises are like sonar used to detect submarines; they send a sound to the sea’s depths and analyze the echo from the seabed to map the ocean floor. They are looking for any abnormalities or unusual shapes on the ocean floor.

The devises can be fitted on unmanned mini-submarines that can dive to the depths of the ocean for up to 20 hours at a time.

Once evidence of debris from the aircraft is found on the seabed, an underwater submersible with a high resolution camera is sent down to visually inspect the area and then using remote control cutting devices and robots pulls the black box out of the wreckage.

Finally, secret intelligence from nuclear submarines may be used, if that can be done without revealing their sophisticated instruments or the location of these clandestine vessels.

Clues in history

Over the past decade there have been crashes similar to the disappearance of light MH370, which may help search teams this time around.

The most obvious is Air France Flight 447, which went down in the middle of the Atlantic, in 2009. It took $40 million, four lengthy search expeditions and a two-year wait before the black boxes were found.

The ensuing data showed that the plane went down mid-cruise largely due to a number of poor decisions by the pilots.

A second example was a Helios jet 737, which lost pressurization and oxygen over Greece in 2005, suffocating the pilot and co-pilot. The plane then flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed, but unlike the Malaysian Boeing, it crashed over land and not in one of the deepest and most inaccessible parts of the ocean.

This Underwater Microphone Could Find the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet | Autopia | Wired.com.

 

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French data show possible debris from jetliner

PERTH, Australia (AP)France provided new satellite data Sunday showing possible debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as searchers combing a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean tried without success to locate a pallet that could be a key clue in solving one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries.

The new information given to Malaysia’s government and forwarded to searchers in Australia shows “potential objects” in the same part of the ocean where satellite images previously released by Australia and China showed objects that could be debris from the plane, Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport said in a statement without providing further details.

Flight 370 went missing over the Gulf of Thailand on March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, setting off a multinational search effort that has turned up nothing conclusive so far on what happened to the jet.

Sunday’s search was frustrating because “there was cloud down to the surface and at times we were completely enclosed by cloud,” Royal Australian Air Force flight Lt. Russell Adams told reporters at the military base where the planes take off and land on their missions.

Nothing of interest to searchers was found, he said, adding that the search is worth it because “we might do 10 sorties and find nothing, but on that 11th flight when you find something and you know that you’re actually contributing to some answers for somebody.”

Details on the French data were not immediately released. The statement from Malaysia called the information “new satellite images,” while a statement from France’s Foreign Ministry said “radar echoes taken by a satellite” had located floating debris but made no mention of imagery.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is leading the search in waters off Australia, declined to offer details about the information from France. The authority did not respond to multiple requests by The Associated Press for access to the data.

“Any satellite images or other new information that comes to AMSA is being considered in developing the search plans,” AMSA said.

But a Malaysian official involved in the search mission said the French data consisted of radar echoes captured Friday and converted into fuzzy images that located objects about 930 kilometers (575 miles) north of the spots where the objects in the images released by Australia and China were located.

One of the objects located was estimated to be about the same size as an object captured Tuesday by the Chinese satellite that appeared to be 22 meters (72 feet) by 13 meters (43 feet), said the official, who declined to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media. It was not possible to determine precise dimensions from the French data, the official said.

Information about the new data emerged as authorities coordinating the search, which is being conducted about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, sent planes and a ship to try to “re-find” a wooden pallet that appeared to be surrounded by straps of varying lengths and colors. It was spotted Saturday by spotters in a search plane, but no images were captured of it and a military PC Orion military plane dispatched to locate the pallet could not find it.

“So, we’ve gone back to that area again today to try and re-find it,” said Mike Barton, chief of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s rescue coordination center. An Australian navy ship was also involved in the search.

Wooden pallets are commonly used in shipping, but can also be used in cargo containers carried on planes.

AMSA said the aircraft that spotted the pallet was unable to take photos of it.

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