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AMSA leads MH370 Indian Ocean search

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 18, 2014
US Navy P-8A 168429 on approach to land at Perth Airport where it will join the MH370 search. (Duncan Watkinson)
The US Navy P-8A of VP-16 on approach to land at Perth Airport where it will join the MH370 search. (Duncan Watkinson)

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority – AMSA – which is now coordinating search efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, said on Tuesday it is now focused on an area 1,500nm southwest of Perth “based on information made available to AMSA on Monday”.

“AMSA has defined a possible search area with information available to us from a range of sources both nationally and internationally,” AMSA emergency response general manager John Young was reported as saying.

“This search will be difficult. The sheer size of the search area poses a huge challenge – the search area is more than 600,000 square kilometres.”

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Four RAAF AP-3C Orions have now been tasked to the Indian Ocean search effort based from Perth (one was relocating there from Cocos Island overnight Monday). They are being joined by a US Navy P-8A Poseidon and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion. AMSA said one AP-3C sortie was being flown in the search zone on Tuesday, with up to five sorties (with three by AP-3Cs, and one each by the P-8A and the P-3K2) planned for Wednesday.

The distant location of the search zone will involve very long transit times. At its 350kt long cruising speed an AP-3C/P-3K2 would take over four hours to reach the search area.

AMSA chart showing the refined search area.
AMSA chart showing the refined search area.

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15 Comments

  • Dane

    says:

    On the plus side the ADF will get a look in at how the P-8 operates.

  • red Barron

    says:

    I saw images of a wedge tail 737 going into Perth today on the news. Are these aircraft being used as well or was it just file footage can anyone confirm?

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      We understand the Wedgetail has returned to Williamtown, so its visit would have been unrelated.

  • Nick

    says:

    If the Plane was Hijacked why on earth would they come south? there’s only water. and why is the USN P-8 landing at Perth Airport and not RAAF Pearce?

  • Alex

    says:

    Yeah I have seen the p-8 today at work at the terminal 2 in Perth. Looks great and can’t wait the ADF getting them into service.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Hmmm, this is where an aircraft carrier with some MPA onboard would come in useful… over 8 hours of return travel before they can even start searching. Remember HMAS Melbourne and her S-2 Trackers…

  • tulip

    says:

    I don’t understand if it’s Hijacked what are hijacker’s demand and what’s the use of the technology which can’t trace a Boeing. It’s seems Hijacker’s using better technology then Gov….We can just pray …

  • Michael

    says:

    It has been reported that China also wants to send aircraft to help. Maybe the US P-8 being based at PER instead of RAAF Pearce as to avoid a diplomatic situation if they were seen as offering use of the base to the US but not China.

  • Dane

    says:

    If someone had pulled all the right circuit breakers, you could shut off the majority of tracking and reporting systems on the aircraft. Civil radar only interrogates the transponder and doesn’t work off reflections like military radar does. Even if the flight was spotted on military radar, it would’ve been looked at and passed off as a normal occurrence. Radar coverage only extends so far out into the oceans, hence why I believe the authorities think the plane more than likely ventured into the Southern Ocean. Just a theory.

  • Raymond

    says:

    I wonder whether JORN has had any input… there are interesting rumours it can ‘see’ a long, long way… further than you might imagine, and much further than any ranges claimed in the public domain.

  • Marc

    says:

    The coffee might be better at PER.

  • BH

    says:

    @ Raymond.
    Even though JORN has a massive coverage I’m pretty sure that it can only focus on small areas at a time at the digression of the operator. So unless it was looking in that particular area at the time then it probably won’t have seen any evidence of the flight.

  • Mike Smith

    says:

    Given the fact the Thai’s had to be asked for primary radar data, has anyone asked the Indonesians for their radar data? If MH370 flew south it may have flown through Indonesian Airspace.

  • Mike Smith

    says:

    Just a correction on Civil Radars. They generally have 2 radars co-located, one on top of the other. The curved dish is the primary radar and work off reflected signals and the other is a flat array which is on top, this is the Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) that receives transponder data.

  • Adrian

    says:

    A good time to review the policy of rolling out ADSB with out primary radar.
    Also look at any holes in Australian maritime surveillance capability.

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