Search for missing plane enters new phase

April 29, 2014 - 2:58:26 am

SYDNEY: The chance of finding floating debris from a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner has become highly unlikely, and a new phase of the search will focus on a far larger area of the Indian Ocean floor, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said yesterday.

The search effort for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has so far failed to turn up any trace of wreckage from the plane. Given the amount of time that has elapsed, Abbott said that efforts would now shift away from the visual searches conducted by planes and ships and towards underwater equipment capable of scouring the ocean floor with sophisticated sensors.

He admitted, however, that it was possible nothing would ever be found of the jetliner. “We will do everything we humanly can, everything we reasonably can, to solve this mystery,” he said.

Malaysia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Britain and the United States are assisting Australia in conducting the most expensive search in aviation history. Malaysia is under pressure to bring closure to the grieving families by finding wreckage to determine definitively what happened to the aircraft.

Abbott said that the new search area, which spans 700km by 80km (435 miles by 40 miles), could take between 6-8 months to completely examine, at a cost to Australia of as much as A$60m ($55.69m).