Addressing a press conferenece in Canberra, alongside JACC chief Angus Houston, who is leading the search operations, PM Tony Abbott announced that the search will enter a new phase that will cover an “entire probable impact zone” stretching over 56,000 square kilometres.
“It is now 52 days since Malaysia Airlines Fight MH370 disappeared and I’m here to inform you that the search will be entering a new phase,” he said.
He assured that Australia will not shirk responsibility and will continue to lead the search.
Mr Abbott added that the new intensive phase of search is estimated to cost $60 million.
The fresh phase of search for MH370 will cover a larger area of ocean floor and will deploy commercial contractors, added the PM.
JACC chief Mr Houston added that the new phase would take 6-8 months to finish.
Expressing disappointment over no trace of wreckage discovered so far, Australian PM added that it was “highly unlikely” that any surface wreckage will be found from Flight MH370, but he said that underwater search will continue and Bluefin-21 will keep scouring the ocean floor.
Meanwhile, search for the plane continued today as Bluefin-21 started its 16th mission and continue to examine the areas adjacent to the focused underwater search area.
According to the JACC, Up to 9 military aircraft and 12 ships are set to help in today’s search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has planned a visual search area of approximately 54,921 square kilometres, lying approximately 1667 kilometres north west of Perth, the JACC informed.
Alos, the weather forecast for today indicates the cold front will move out of the search area and be replaced by a southerly trade flow, sea swells of four to five metres, added the JACC.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board while en route to Beijing.