NZers to return from MH370 search

A New Zealand air force crew searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will arrive back in New Zealand on Thursday.

About 40 RNZAF personnel have been part of the hunt for MH370.

The New Zealand P-3K2 Orion has searched around 1.5 million square kilometres of the Southern Indian Ocean - an area about eight times the size of New Zealand - for 53 days.

They completed 27 flights, spent 100 hours on search, and a total of 276 hours flying.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman today thanked the P-3K2 involved in the international search effort for a "highly professional job".

"It was important that New Zealand played our part alongside our international partners in the unprecedented search effort for MH370," he said.

"The Air Force's upgraded P-3K2 Orion, with state of the art sensors, was an ideal option for search missions like this."

The estimated $1.2 million cost of the search for MH370 was managed within the NZDF's budget and Air Force allocated hours, Dr Coleman said.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic control on March 8, this year.

It was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 14 nations.

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