Orion back in air searching for MH370

A crewman aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft scans the ocean for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. REUTERS/Jason Reed
A crewman aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft scans the ocean for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. REUTERS/Jason Reed
An RNZAF Orion based near Perth in Western Australia was in the air again tonight searching in the Southern Indian Ocean for evidence of the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The aircraft returned to base this morning around 1.30pm (NZT) after 11 hours in the air, bringing its total flying hours in the search operation to 84 over the past 14 days.

Air Commodore Mike Yardley, Air Component Commander at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand, said the Orion crew searched the entire area allocated to them.

They also covered another smaller area nearby, where they dropped a GPS marker buoy to measure the drift rate in the area.

Air Commodore Yardley said all they saw was seaweed.

They took off again this evening at 6.00pm (NZT) for another 11-hour sortie.

The crew will have a rest day tomorrow and are expected to fly again on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The desolate area in the Indian Ocean is about 2500 kilometres southwest of Perth, Australia, where three days of searching for similar images from another satellite that emerged earlier in the week have produced no results.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is co-ordinating the operation from the country's western coast, said it refined the search based on the latest clue from the Chinese satellite showing an object that appeared to be 22 metres by 13 metres.

It said that the object's position also fell within Saturday's search area but it had not been sighted.

Sunday's search involving eight aircraft has been split into two areas within the same proximity covering 59,000 square kilometres. These areas have been determined by drift modelling, the AMSA said.

Despite the frustrating lack of answers, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was upbeat.

"Obviously we have now had a number of very credible leads and there is increasing hope - no more than hope - that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft," Mr Abbott told reporters in Papua New Guinea.

 

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