Australia has been leading the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 for 41 of the days the plane has been missing. In a press conference today, Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has said that the search will now enter a new phase, as our nation begins to call off the aerial hunt for the missing jet to move into what’s being described as a “new phase”.
PM Abbott said in a press conference today that private and military aircraft from Australia have been working extensively with other nations to search for MH370 off the coast of Western Australia.
How extensively? Well, various aircraft have now searched 4.5 million square kilometres of ocean, flying eight flights per day for a total of 3000 hours searching now under the belt.
Sadly, even after all this looking, Abbott said that “it is unlikely we’ll find debris on the surface”.
The aerial search for MH370 is now becoming dangerous, according to the PM, saying that the jets are now “operating at the limit of sensible and safe operation”.
So what happens now?
Well, Australia has vowed to enter a new phase in the hunt for the world’s most baffling plane crash, with the hunt set to be based around a sea-level search rather than scouring from the air.
The Bluefin-21 submarine will continue searching the ocean floor for MH370, as more ships join the hunt with new, specialised equipment.
Sidescan sonar equipment will be towed behind ships in the search. That gear will be used to scan the ocean floor for wreckage, as well as the rest of the search area that right now, makes up an area of 700×80 kilometres.
A RAAF 3C Orion aircraft will be on stand-by for short-notice deployment into the search zone in case wreckage is found.
It won’t be the Australian or Malaysian Navy leading the search from now on, however. PM Abbott has said that a $60 million contract will now be up for grabs to find specialist deep-ocean search companies to privately search for the craft. It’s going to take a few weeks to get that contract into place, according to the Prime Minister.