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mh370 search and rescueIt’s been two years since MH370 disappeared. Today, the most challenging search and rescue operation continues to search for the missing plane in the Indian Ocean – or, more precisely, its remains.

The search so far has cost tens of millions of dollars, and experts and assets have been consulted and deployed from numerous nations, including the world’s three biggest economies: the United States, China and Japan. In the initial weeks of the search, through March into April, there were times when it was believed the aircraft’s wreckage had been located. Hopes were soon dashed; confusion, anger and hopelessness ensued.

Search teams in the Indian Ocean are looking for the plane in some of the most difficult underwater terrain ever encountered. There are mountains that dwarf Mount Everest. At points, the ocean floor drops to 6.5 kilometres below the surface. There are sub-sea volcanoes and a rift valley that stretches hundreds of kilometres long and one kilometre deep.

The search teams must also respond to investigators crunching data based on best estimates and assumptions which has meant the prioritised search zone can, and has, changed. The teams are now focused on a “priority” search zone of 65,000 square kilometres, but remain open to the fact it could be in adjoining search areas consisting of a total of 170,000 square kilometres. Is it there, somewhere?

When you are conducting an underwater search like this, there is a direct correlation between speed and accuracy. You could cover a large area of ground reasonably quickly with sonar attached to the bottom of a vessel, but the pixel quality might not be enough to spot even a large piece of wreckage like a wing.

On the other hand, you could send an underwater vehicle to cover every inch of the seabed, and spend decades doing so. “If this whole area was just a flat, boring plain then something might stand out,” Kennedy says. “Unfortunately it’s such a busy terrain you are really looking for a needle in a haystack rather than a needle on a sheet of glass.”

Conditions above the water’s surface can also be difficult given the search zone is located close to the 40th parallel south, known for the Roaring Forties winds. It is miserable in winter – icy winds and storms frustrate the search – which means now, the southern hemisphere summer, is the time to cover as much ground as possible. To read the article in full click here.

The 2016 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference (ANZSAR); Land, Sea & Air will be held at the Jupiters Hotel, Gold Coast on the 1 June 2016. To register for the conference CLICK HERE. Early bird registrations close on Monday 18th April so be quick to receive a discounted rate.


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