Missing plane search fails to find objects

03:39, Mar 21 2014
MH370
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
MH370
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
MH370
Australia officials say they still have no clear indication if the objects are the missing plane.
MH370
Updated search area charts for Friday's operation from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Rescue authorities are studying satellite data for more clues in the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, after an air and sea search in the remote Indian Ocean off Australia failed to find any trace of a suspected debris field.

Australia rushed four international aircraft to an area about 2500km southwest of Perth on Thursday when analysis of satellite images identified two large objects that may have come from the Boeing 777, which went missing from radar screens 13 days ago with 239 people aboard, including two New Zealanders.

China is also sending three warships to join the search in the southern Indian Ocean, the government said on Friday.

No indication has been give as to when they might arrive at the remote site, but earlier Chinese news reports said the ships - the Kunlunshan, the Haikou and the Qiandaohu - were searching near the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

A fourth Chinese vessel, the icebreaker Snow Dragon, is in the western Australian port of Perth following a trip to Antarctica and might join the search.

The MH370 story in pictures
The saga begins on March 8, when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 departs Kuala Lumpur at 12:41am, local time. On board are 227 passengers and 12 crew.
The MH370 story in pictures
Captaining the flight of the Boeing 777-200 is 53-year old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, shown here on the right.
The MH370 story in pictures
At 1:21am the MH370's transponder stops signalling, halting the regular responses it usually gives to radar signals. The plane makes a series of strange but controlled movements, turning west sharply, then climbing above its designed height limit and back down.
The MH370 story in pictures
At 1.30am, on point 4, the plane is spotted for the last time on civilian radar. At 2.15am, on point 5, military radar spots it, although it is not clear at the time that this was MH370. Satellite data suggests the plane could also have angled towards point 6.
The MH370 story in pictures
At 6.32am air traffic control in Kuala Lumpur sends a radio signal on an emergency channel asking MH370 to contact them. The plane is now overdue at Beijing Airport, shown.
The MH370 story in pictures
Relatives of passengers despair, and the search begins.
The MH370 story in pictures
International news media focus on the story immediately.
The MH370 story in pictures
Multiple false leads pop up, like this oil spotted by a Vietnamese search plane.
The MH370 story in pictures
Malaysian government and airline officials have released confusing and contradictory information. Here, Malaysian Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, left, and Department of Civil Aviation director general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman take questions at a press conference.
The MH370 story in pictures
Concerns are raised when it becomes apparent that two Iranian men, shown here, boarded the plane with stolen passports. Interpol rejects the suggestion of terrorism, however, concluding the men were probably asylum seekers.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
Theories abound. Fellow pilot Chris Goodfellow has suggested that a tyre may have caught fire, causing the pilots to turn towards the closest suitable airport, with the rapid ascent and descent perhaps representing an attempt to extinguish the fire. Critics of this theory have pointed out that the change in path was programmed into the plane's computer 12 minutes before the calm toned "good night" transmission, suggesting the change in course was planned.
The MH370 story in pictures
Given the amount of fuel on board, the plane could have made it as far north as Kazakhstan, on a possible flight path shown in orange.
The MH370 story in pictures
Or somewhere southwest of Australia, on a possible flight path shown in orange.
The MH370 story in pictures
Others have speculated that the pilot or co-pilot may have intentionally crashed the plane. The FBI is trying to restore deleted simulator-flights from Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah's computer – but these could be innocuous. Critics of the crash theory say neither the pilot nor co-pilot had ever expressed any kind of radical sentiment or displayed mental issues, and both possessed adequate flying experience.
The MH370 story in pictures
The ever-present worry of terrorism remains. No groups have claimed responsibility for the incident, and a political motivation is unclear - but that doesn't rule it out.
MH370
On March 20, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told his parliament that objects had been spotted in waters hundreds of kilometres off the western Australian coast. Further searches, by Australian, New Zealand and US planes, were needed to find out if they were part of the missing plane.
Perth
The crew of one of two Chinese Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft used in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 walk away from their plane in Perth.
MH370 search
Thirty-eight days after the plane went missing, an Australian navy ship is guided into position by a Royal New Zealand Airforce P-3K2 Orion aircraft. Officials say they will deploy an underwater robot to aid in the hunt.
MH370
Announcing that an underwater drone will be deployed imminently, Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre chief Angus Houston says an oil slick has been detected in the search area for the missing plane.

Investigators suspect the Malaysia Airlines flight, which took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing shortly after midnight on March 8, was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres and then crashed into some of the deepest, most isolated waters on the planet in a possible suicide.

Rescue authorities cautioned that the objects spotted on the satellite images, dated March 16, might not be related to the transcontinental search for the plane but said the find represented the best lead yet.

The first search plane took off from Pearce RAAF base in Western Australia at 6.15am Perth time (11.15am NZT) today.

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Yesterday's search was hampered by "extremely bad" weather conditions causing poor visibility, Australian air force pilots said.

Air Commodore Mike Yardley said the search area was known as the "roaring forties" owing to its treacherous conditions.  

The satellite images showing possible debris of MH370 has given searches "a level of optimism", he said on TV3's Firstline this morning.  

"But of course it's a huge ocean, a huge search area, and we've still got a task ahead of us," he said.

But Yardley was optimistic that the searchers will find the objects. "We will find it - I'm sure about that piece of it. The only reason we wouldn't find it was that it has sunk," he said of the large unidentified object spotted by the satellite.

"I've been on these missions before when it's taken a few days to come across it," he said.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott this morning said Australia was "throwing all the resources we can at it [the search operation]".

A Norwegian merchant ship that had been diverted to the area last night was still searching there. Another vessel would arrive later today.

Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss said Australia continued to examine satellite footage to pinpoint the location of the suspected debris, which included a piece estimated from the satellite imagery to be 24 metres long.

"Clearly, there's a lot of resources being put into that particular area. It's broadly consistent with the flight plans that were talked about ever since the satellites and their work has been added to the information bank," Truss told ABC radio.

"That work will continue, trying to get more pictures, stronger resolution so that we can be more confident about where the items are, how far they have moved and therefore what efforts should be put into the search effort."

Strong winds, cloud and rain had made searching difficult, said Kevin Short, air vice marshal at New Zealand's Defence Forces which sent a P-3K2 Orion to search the area on Thursday.

"The crew never found any object of significance," he told Radio New Zealand. "Visibility wasn't very good, which makes it harder to search the surface of the water," he said.

A nearby desolate group of French-administered sub-Antarctic islands including St Paul and Amsterdam and Kerguelen had been asked to look for debris, but none had been spotted, said Sebastien Mourot, chief of staff for the French prefect of La Reunion.

FALSE LEADS

There have been many false leads and no confirmed wreckage found from Flight MH370 since it vanished off Malaysia's east coast, less than an hour after taking off.

There has also been criticism of the search operation and investigation, as more than two dozen countries scramble to overcome logistical and diplomatic hurdles to solve the mystery.

Investigators piecing together patchy data from military radar and satellites believe that, minutes after its identifying transponder was switched off as it crossed the Gulf of Thailand, the plane turned sharply west, re-crossing the Malay Peninsula and following an established route towards India.

What happened next is unclear, but faint electronic "pings" picked up by one commercial satellite suggest the aircraft flew on for at least six hours.

A source with direct knowledge of the situation said that information gleaned from the pings had been passed to investigators within a few days, but it took Malaysia more than a week to narrow the search area to two large arcs - one reaching south to near where the potential debris was spotted, and a second crossing to the north into China and central Asia.

- Agencies