Search pilot says 'got a lot of hope'

Last updated 23:36 21/03/2014

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Favourable conditions were encountered in the area of ocean being searched for debris that might be related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

But Royal Australian Air Force pilot Russell Adams' squadron could not locate the two objects spotted on satellite images that sparked the ocean search on Thursday.

"We've got a lot of hope and if the conditions stay as they are, hopefully we'll find something soon," Flight Lieutenant Adams said just moments after landing at the RAAF Pearce base on Friday.

The RAAF P3 Orion captained by Flight Lieutenant Adams left the military airstrip shortly after 9am AEST to travel to a search zone in the Indian Ocean about 2500 kilometres from Perth.

The flight takes about four hours each way, which, due to fuel constraints, leaves only two hours to explore the 23,000 sq km search area.

"The visibility was great, we had better than 10-kilometre visibility, there was no rain in the area," Flight Lieutenant Adams said.

"We had really good opportunity to see anything visual out there and for the task we had today, the conditions were outstanding.

But other aircraft at the search zone, including other Orions and a United States Navy Poseidon, were still at sea. "With any luck we'll find something shortly," he said.

A second RAAF P3 Orion left the airfield shortly after 10am and was expected to land about 8.30pm, followed by an ultra-long-range Bombardier Global Express jet and a third Orion, which departed about 1pm.

Flight Lieutenant Adams' squadron are expected to head back out on Saturday morning.

China is sending five ships, three ship-borne helicopters and three search aircraft to join the Australian search in the southern Indian Ocean.

Japan is also sending two Orion aircraft to the search the vast expanse of water.

Malaysia’s defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein was due to speak with US defence secretary Chuck Hagel late on Friday to discuss the US sending specialist assets, including remotely-operated vehicles for deep ocean salvage.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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