MH370 Operational Search Update—
05 November 2014
This operational report has been developed to provide regular updates on the progress of the search effort for MH370. Our work will continue to be thorough and methodical, so sometimes weekly progress may seem slow. Please be assured that work is continuing and is aimed at finding MH370 as quickly as possible.
Key developments this week
- The current bathymetric survey work was completed on 26 October and all data has now been analysed with a total area mapped of over 160,000 square kilometres.
- GO Phoenix commenced underwater search operations on 4 November.
- Over 3,000 square kilometres of the ocean floor have been searched to date.
The bathymetric survey work was completed on 26 October 2014.
[Click map to view larger image]
The total area surveyed by Fugro Equator and Zhu Kezhen's multibeam data acquisition in the search area was over 160,000 square kilometres.
If it proves necessary, bathymetric survey operations may recommence in the future.
Over 3,000 square kilometres of the seafloor have been searched so far.
[Click map to view larger image]
In addition to locating the aircraft, the underwater search aims to identify any crucial evidence, such as aircraft wreckage and flight recorders, to assist with the Malaysian investigation. The ATSB has utilised the data from the bathymetric survey work to prepare the initial plan for the underwater search, to be followed and referred to by all parties involved. The plan includes search timings, methods, procedures, safety precautions and search areas. The initial search areas have been allocated to the different vessels with the aim of positively identifying and mapping the debris field of MH370.
GO Phoenix departed Fremantle after resupply and commenced underwater search operations in the search area on 4 November.
Fugro Discovery continued search operations during the week, but was required to suspend operations on Friday 31 October owing to severe weather. The deep tow vehicle was recovered to a safe depth of 1000 metres and the vessel proceeded on an appropriate course and speed until conditions improved. On 3 November, Fugro Discovery recommenced search operations.
Fugro Equator arrived at Fremantle on 31 October and commenced mobilisation as the third underwater search vessel. This process involves reconfiguring the vessel to accommodate a deep tow vehicle identical to that currently in use by Fugro Discovery. Fugro Equator is expected to depart for the search area in the coming week.
There is considerable variance in weather conditions across the vast search area, with sea states ranging from 1 to 7. Poor weather conditions, including gale force winds, in some parts of the search area are likely to affect operations over the coming week. Weather conditions are however expected to improve over the summer months.
The complexities surrounding the search are immense. It involves vast areas of the Indian Ocean with only limited known data and aircraft flight information. While it is impossible to determine with certainty where the aircraft may have entered the water, the available data and analysis indicate that the most likely location lies close to a long but narrow arc in the southern Indian Ocean, where the aircraft last communicated with a ground station through a satellite. This is where the aircraft is assessed to have run out of fuel.
As previously advised, work continues with refinements to the analysis of the satellite communication system messages, however no significant changes occurred in October.