ATSB: Poor weather forecast in MH370 search area

KUALA LUMPUR: The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said in an email that weather conditions are expected to be poor over the coming days in the MH370 search area, “deteriorating further towards the end of the week.”

“Strong winds and rough seas are expected to impact on search operations.”

More than 110,000 square kilometres of the seafloor have been searched so far. The search area in the 7th Arc in the southern Indian Ocean, off southwest Australia, totals 120,000 sq km.

The ATSB was forwarding a MH370 Operational Search Update prepared by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre. The ATSB is leading the underwater search for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean at the request of the Malaysian Government.

The Update listed three key developments this week:

  • Fugro Discovery will depart the search area for the last time on 11 August and transit to Singapore to be readied for its next project, unrelated to the search for MH370.
  • Fugro Equator is conducting search operations.
  • Dong Hai Jiu 101 arrived in Fremantle on 8 August for a scheduled port visit.

“Our work will continue to be thorough and methodical, so sometimes weekly progress may seem slow,” said the Update dated 10 August 2016. “Please be assured that work is continuing and is aimed at finding MH370 as quickly as possible.”

Since Fugro Discovery will be departing the search area on 11 August 2016, the plan provides for the remaining work to be completed using the other vessels, said the Update.

At a meeting of Ministers from Malaysia, Australia and China on 22 July 2016, it was agreed that should the aircraft not be located in the current search area, and in the absence of credible new evidence leading to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, the search would be suspended upon completion of the 120,000 sq km search area.

Ministers went to great lengths to explain that this does not mean the termination of the search; should credible new information emerge which can be used to identify the specific location of the aircraft, “consideration will be given to determining the next steps”.