Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Updates Day 40 April 16 , 2014 -- - PERTH: The hunt for a missing Malaysian plane suffered another setback today when a second seabed search by a mini-submarine was cut short due to “technical” troubles after the first also aborted in very deep water .......... Is China's involvement in the MH370 search a HINDRANCE? Comments made by officials and experts observing the hunt for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have suggested that a number of false leads coming from China have notably hampered search efforts for the missing jet.


MH370 Tragedy: Mini-sub aborts again

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PERTH: The hunt for a missing Malaysian plane suffered another setback today when a second seabed search by a mini-submarine was cut short due to “technical” troubles after the first also aborted in very deep water.

Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) issued a brief statement which spoke of an unspecified “technical issue” with the unmanned Bluefin-21 sonar device.
The first mission which began Monday night aborted automatically after breaching the machine’s maximum operating depth of 4,500 metres (15,000 feet).
But there was no explanation for what caused the interruption of the second mission, which began Tuesday night, or how long it lasted.
“The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Bluefin-21, was forced to resurface this morning to rectify a technical issue,” JACC said.
“Bluefin-21 was then redeployed and it is currently continuing its underwater search.”
Before the device was put in the water for the third time, data had been downloaded from the vehicle while on the deck of the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, which has led the search for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard.
“Initial analysis of the data downloaded this morning indicates no significant detections,” JACC said.
The Bluefin’s first mission, cut short after just six of an intended 16 hours mapping the seabed with sonar, had also drawn a blank.
After more than three weeks of hunting for black box signals, the autonomous sub was deployed for the first time on Monday night.
The US navy explained that the Bluefin-21 had automatically aborted its first mission after six hours upon breaching its maximum operating depth.
JACC added that it had “exceeded its operating depth limit of 4,500 metres and its built-in safety feature returned it to the surface”. The sub was undamaged and had to be re-programmed, said US Navy Captain Mark Matthews.
“In this case the vehicle’s programmed to fly 30 metres over the floor of the ocean to get a good mapping of what’s beneath,” he told CNN from Perth after the aborted dive.
“It went to 4,500 metres and once it hit that max depth, it said ’This is deeper than I’m programmed to be’, so it aborted the mission.” -
Questions were raised about how deep the seabed may be in the search area.
JACC chief Angus Houston has stressed that the AUV cannot operate below 4,500 metres and that other vehicles would have to be brought in to cope with greater depths.
“There are vehicles that can go a lot deeper than that,” he said Monday.
"They are usually much larger vehicles; they do recovery as well and obviously those sorts of possibilities will be looked at... they are being looked at as we speak.
“But a lot will depend on the outcome of what we find when we go down and take a look,” said Houston, who has not revealed what has been seen so far.
He had announced Monday the end of listening for signals from the plane’s black box flight recorders and the launch of the submarine operation.
The mini-sub is supposed to conduct a sonar survey of the silty ocean floor for 16 hours at a time, looking for wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines flight which mysteriously disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The US Navy has estimated it would take the Bluefin-21 “anywhere from six weeks to two months to scan the entire search area”. The area has been narrowed down using satellite data and the detection of electronic pulses from the black box which were last heard more than a week ago.
Houston has described those detections as the best lead in the hunt for the plane, and added Monday that an oil slick had also been sighted in the search area.
It would take several days to test a sample of the oil ashore, but Houston said he did not think it was from one of the many ships involved in the hunt.
The cause of the plane’s disappearance, after being diverted hundreds of kilometres off course, remains a mystery. No debris has been found despite an enormous search involving ships and planes from several nations.
The visual search for debris also continued today, JACC said, with as many as 14 aircraft and 11 ships involved over an area of 55,151 square kilometres (21,288 square miles) more than 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) northwest of Perth.--AFP
The second seabed search by Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Bluefin-21, was forced to resurface this morning to rectify a technical issue. While on deck, its data was downloaded and was then redeployed says Australian's Joint Agency Coordination Centre. AP Photo


MH370 Tragedy: First foray of mini-sub finds nothing of interest

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PERTH: The first dive by a mini-submarine hunting for Malaysian jet MH370 detected nothing of interest, with the mission aborted after breaching the machine’s maximum operating depth, the US Navy said Tuesday.

   The unmanned Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Bluefin-21 was undamaged  and set for a second sonar sweep of the Indian Ocean seabed during the day,  weather permitting.
 
   “To account for inconsistencies with the sea floor, the search profile is  being adjusted to extend the sonar search for as long as possible,” a US  statement said.
 
   “Bluefin-21 was unable to complete its first search mission after six  hours, due to breaching maximum operating depth.”
 
   The vehicle was recovered and six hours’ worth of data downloaded.
 
   “The data was analysed and no objects of interest were found,” the  statement said.
 
   “The vehicle is in good material and working condition.”
 
   The navy estimated it would take the AUV from six weeks to two months to  scan the entire search area.
 
   The submarine equipped with sonar deployed Monday night from the Australian  ship Ocean Shield, which has spearheaded the hunt for the Boeing 777 that  vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard.
 
   “The AUV was programmed to fly at an altitude of 30 meters over the ocean  floor; however, when the vehicle reached its maximum operating depth of 4,500  meters (15,000 feet), its built-in safety feature returned it to the surface,”  the navy said.
 
   Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre said the AUV had been due to  spend 16 hours collecting data. -- AFP





Wednesday, 16 April 2014 07:55

Is China's involvement in the MH370 search a HINDRANCE?

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Is China's involvement in the MH370 search a HINDRANCE?
Comments made by officials and experts observing the hunt for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have suggested that a number of false leads coming from China have notably hampered search efforts for the missing jet.
"The Chinese claims have exasperated some officials from the United States and other participating countries," the New York Times said in an article published yesterday, pointing to a series of instances in which leads from China in the search have been discounted.
In the first week of the search, for example, China released satellite photos purporting to show possible wreckage from the missing jet. While Vietnamese authorities had already searched the area where the debris was spotted, crew was sent over to check again. The claim, according to the Times, triggered a rebuke from Malaysian officials that China had wasted time of other nations involved in the search.
On April 5, reports from China's state-run media said that the Chinese search vessel Haixun 01 had detected electronic pings in the Indian Ocean. Although there was doubt surrounding the claims, search officials sent over the British vessel H.M.S. Echo, equipped with more sophisticated listening technology, to investigate, but it was soon after announced by the Australian government that the pings couldn't be verified. The British vessel was pulled from Haixun 01's search area and sent to an Australian vessel that had also detected four signals considered "the most promising lead" yet in the search.


Officials believe that the delay in deploying Echo cost searchers the opportunity to record more signals and narrow down the underwater search, according to the Times.
And while Chinese media platforms are quick to broadcast any positive development in China's search for the jet, reports discounting the leads seem to trickle out more slowly:
Chris Buckley 储百亮 @ChuBailiang
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Having blared out that Haixun 01 detected a possible signal from Flight 370, Xinhua seems a little tardy reporting the disconfirmation.
9:09 PM - 13 Apr 2014
Statements from officials involved in the search have further alluded to this frustration:
“Everybody wants to find the plane,” said a senior Defense Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to appear overly critical of the Chinese. But, he continued, “false leads slow down the investigation.”[…]
In an interview, a high-level official in the Malaysian government stiffened when Chinese involvement in the search arose. “Really helpful, aren’t they?” he said sarcastically.
The Times points out that the negativity directed towards China's missteps may have been less if China itself hadn't continually criticized Malaysian authorities' handling of the search.
As Chinese passengers make up a majority those onboard the ill-fated flight, it makes sense that China wanted to take the helm in finding the jet and even regain some lost prestige following condemnation towards the nation and its rather late involvement in aiding the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
But, from the viewpoint of Willy Lam, a specialist in Chinese strategic policies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the sophistication of China's equipment in the search is underwhelming.

“According to the state propaganda, they are supposed to have sent the best they could muster, because it’s national prestige at stake, and they face a lot of pressure from the victims’ families,” Mr. Lam said to the Times.
“In spite of all the hoopla over China building an advanced military, they seem to have not much to show in this operation.”
Still, observers have (kind of) applauded China for its obvious determination and commitment to finding the plane.
“It’s possible that this has led some Chinese personnel to reach premature judgments based on limited or inconclusive observations,” Jonathan D. Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, was quoted as saying. “But this hardly seems unique to China.” -shanghaiist.com