Technical issue curtails MH370 search
The first mission of the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Bluefin 21 on Tuesday was returned to the surface after just six hours because its depth limit of 4.5 kilometres had been exceeded.
It was expected to be a 24 hour mission, comprising four hours travel to and from the ocean floor, 16 hours of sidescan sonar work and four hours of downloading and analysing data.
The vehicle was then redeployed to continue asics running asics running its underwater search for MH370, which was carrying 239 passengers and crew when it went missing more than five weeks ago.
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Initial analysis of the data did not indicate any significant detections, the Joint Agency Co ordination Centre (JACC) said.
Searchers ceased the hunt for acoustic signals from the Boeing 777’s black box on Monday after it became clear the batteries had died, eight days after their guaranteed shelf life and six days after the last audio detections.
And it could be the final day of the aircraft search for floating debris, with JACC saying on Monday that part of the operation would continue for two to three more days.
On Wednesday, 14 planes and 11 ships combed a 55,151 s asics running quare kilometre area of the Indian Ocean, centred about 2087 kilometres north west of Perth.
While the water depth of the search area was pre asics running viously estimated at being about 4.5km, Tuesday’s Bluefin 21 mission encountered a slightly deeper zone, causing the day’s work to be automatically aborted.
JACC said the device could scan to depths deeper than 4.5km, but the sonar imaging became less effective the further down it went.
JACC chief Angus Houston told reporters earlier this week that another much larger vessel with wreckage recovery capability that could go a lot deeper than Bluefin 21 was “being looked at as we speak”.
“Options to acquire additional recovery assets to assist in the search of missing Malaysian Airline flight MH370 are still being considered,” JACC told AAP.