Secret weapon in MH370 search

Written By komlim puldel on Rabu, 21 Januari 2015 | 20.01

As the search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 continues, Australian officials have released a topographic visualization of the search area at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

Bad run ... Malaysia Airlines is still committed to finding the missing MH370 plane. Picture: Greg Wood/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

POIGNANT messages from the families of MH370 passengers and crew are being used to help motivate search crews now in their fourth month of scouring the southern Indian Ocean.

The agency coordinating the search has revealed how morale is being maintained among search crews more than ten months after the Malaysia Airlines' Boeing 777 disappeared with 239 people on board.

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The seabed ... what MH370 search crews see day after day. An image released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in December. Picture: Supplied. Source: Supplied

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman said several measures were in place to stress the importance of the mission to crews undertaking the work that has so far proven fruitless.

"It's a hard job in a tough and fatiguing environment so fresh crews are swapped after every (six week) swing," said the spokesman.

"Whenever new crews are about to go out to the search area they receive a thorough briefing on the operation, including by representatives of the ATSB explaining the search and its context.

"The briefing helps them to understand the particular importance of finding MH370 and that their work has a human side."

He said as part of the briefing, messages from MH370 passengers' next of kin were shared.

"This helps the crew understand that they are working to find the answers that will mean a great deal to people who have lost loved ones on the flight and for the future safety of air travel."

This week a new vessel will join the search with the job of going over areas already scanned by Fugro Discovery and Go Phoenix.

Looking for clues ... Malaysia's Defence Minister being briefed on the search for MH370. Picture: Twitter Source: Twitter

The Fugro Supporter has an Autonomous Underwater Vessel (AUV) that operates independently of the ship and is able to negotiate rugged terrain.

It is hoped the AUV may be able to find clues missed by the sonar scans used by other vessels, attached by kilometres of cable.

So far 16,000 square kilometres of ocean floor has been scanned — or just over a quarter of the priority search area, with no trace of the Boeing 777 detected.

Severe weather from Tropical Cyclone Bansi halted the search last Sunday, and the ATSB is very conscious of the looming onset of winter conditions in May.

MH370 search vessel ... Go Phoenix being resupplied to continue the search for the plane. Source: Supplied

"We're currently working to search as much area as possible before the worse winter weather sets in," said the spokesman.

"The southern Indian Ocean can be extremely rough at any time during the year but there are more bad days in the winter months."

Australian and Malaysian authorities are jointly funding the $60 million search and have both indicated it will continue until MH370 is found.

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