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Australian officials have announced that the underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane could widen from its focused area in the Indian Ocean.

The Bluefin-21 submersible has completed 95% of its search in the area where possible signals from the plane’s flight recorder were heard on April 8.

If nothing is found, the Bluefin-21 will move to an adjacent area, the agency co-ordinating the search said.


Meanwhile, Malaysia said a report on the plane could be released next week.

Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people – mostly Chinese nationals – on board.

The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane could widen from its focused area in the Indian Ocean

The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane could widen from its focused area in the Indian Ocean

Using satellite data, officials have concluded that MH370 ended its journey in waters north-west of the Australian city of Perth.

However, the ongoing multi-national search for the missing plane has yet to yield anything concrete. The daily operation is already shaping up to be the most expensive in aviation history.

The robotic submarine Bluefin-21, operated by the US Navy off the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that can identify objects by creating a sonar map of the sea floor.

It is operating at a depth of more than 13,000 feet.

The AUV has been mapping the area of the sea bed within a 10km (6.25 mile) radius of where acoustic signals believed to have come from the aircraft’s flight recorder were detected.

On Friday Australia’s Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement that the AUV had “completed approximately 95% of the focused underwater search area”.

“If no contacts of interest are made, Bluefin-21 will continue to examine the areas adjacent to the 10km radius,” JACC said.

“We are currently consulting very closely with our international partners on the best way to continue the search into the future,” JACC added.

Authorities still do not know why the plane went off course and finding the flight recorders is seen as key to understanding what happened.

Meanwhile, Malaysian PM Najib Razak told CNN on Thursday that there was “a likelihood” the report on the investigation into the missing plane could be released next week.

Malaysian officials said on Wednesday that the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization already had a copy of the report.

In China, relatives of passengers on the missing flight held another protest outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, after Malaysian officials failed to update them on the search.

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Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has announced that the search area for the missing MH370 plane has narrowed and will be at “a critical juncture” in the next two days.

Hishammuddin Hussein said underwater drone Bluefin-21 would finish searching the area within the next week.

The Bluefin 21 mini-submarine has so far found nothing after six missions.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 people.

The Bluefin is mapping the area of the sea bed within 6 miles radius of where acoustic signals were detected believed to have come from the aircraft’s flight recorder.

It is operating at a depth of more than 13,000 feet.

The Bluefin 21 mini-submarine searching for missing Malaysia Airlines plane has so far found nothing after six missions

The Bluefin 21 mini-submarine searching for missing Malaysia Airlines plane has so far found nothing after six missions

Hishammuddin Hussein said it was important to focus on the search on Saturday and Sunday.

“The narrowing of the search for today and tomorrow is at a critical juncture,” he said.

“I appeal to everyone around the world to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on in the next couple of days.”

Using satellite data, officials have concluded that the MH370 ended its journey in seas west of the Australian city of Perth.

They do not know why the plane flew so far off course and finding the plane’s flight recorders is seen as key to understanding what happened.

The Bluefin-21, operated by the US Navy off the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that can identify objects by creating a sonar map of the sea floor.

It is searching in an area defined by four acoustic signals picked up by an Australian search team, and was deployed after officials concluded that the batteries on the plane’s flight recorders would likely have expired, given their one-month shelf life.

Submersible Bluefin-21 has an operating depth of 4,500m (15,000ft) and on its first mission a built-in safety device returned it to the surface after it exceeded that depth.

The authorities have now adjusted the device to allow it to go as deep as 4,695m.

The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said on Thursday that the machine could operate deeper than 4,500m at “a small but acceptable level of risk”.

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Mini-submarine Bluefin-21 searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has completed a full mission at its third attempt.

Two previous missions to scour the floor of the Indian Ocean for wreckage were cut short by technical problems.

The data from the sub’s latest mission is being analyzed. Previous forays have not shown anything significant.

It is searching in the area acoustic signals thought to be from the missing plane’s “black box” flight recorders were heard.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Using satellite data, officials have concluded that it ended its journey in seas west of the Australian city of Perth.

Bluefin-21 searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has completed a full mission at its third attempt

Bluefin-21 searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has completed a full mission at its third attempt

They do not know why the plane flew so far off course and an investigation is ongoing. Finding the plane’s flight recorders are seen as key to understanding what happened.

The Bluefin-21, operated by the US Navy off the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that can identify objects by creating a sonar map of the sea floor.

It is searching in an area defined by four acoustic signals picked up by an Australian search team, and was deployed after officials concluded that the batteries on the plane’s flight recorders would likely have expired, given their one-month shelf life.

The submersible has an operating depth of 15,000ft and on its first mission a built-in safety device returned it to the surface after it exceeded that depth.

Its second mission was also cut short because of unspecified technical difficulties, but the third mission – a full 16 hours, plus two hours each way for diving and surfacing – went according to plan.

“Overnight Bluefin-21 AUV completed a full mission in the search area and is currently planning for its next mission,” the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement.

“Bluefin-21 has searched approximately 90 square kilometres to date and the data from its latest mission is being analyzed.”

JACC also said that an oil sample collected in the area the acoustic signals were heard had arrived in Perth for testing.

“We will provide details of the results when they become available,” it said.

Officials have warned that the search for wreckage on the sea floor could take weeks or months.

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Bluefin-21 robotic mini submarine deployed to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the southern Indian Ocean has had its first mission cut short.

The drone was sent to search the sea floor for wreckage after signals believed to be consistent with “black box” flight recorders were detected.

The Bluefin-21 exceeded its operating limit of 15,000ft and was brought back to the surface.

It was due to return later on Tuesday if weather conditions permitted.

“To account for inconsistencies with the sea floor, the search profile is being adjusted to extend the sonar search for as long as possible,” an update from the US Navy – which operates the Bluefin-21 – said.

The Bluefin-21 exceeded its operating limit of 15,000ft and was brought back to the surface

The Bluefin-21 exceeded its operating limit of 15,000ft and was brought back to the surface

The US Navy said in a later update that no objects of interest were found when the six hours of data were downloaded and analyzed.

Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board. It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers over the South China Sea.

Malaysian officials believe, based on satellite data, that it ended its flight thousands of miles off course, in seas west of the Australian city of Perth.

Amid a major international search, an Australian navy vessel last week detected four acoustic signals using a US Navy towed pinger locator. Officials believe these could come from the missing plane’s flight recorders.

No signals have been detected since 8 April, however, leading to fears that the recorders’ batteries – which last about a month – have run out.

Bluefin-21 is an almost 5m-long vehicle that can create a sonar map of the sea floor. On Monday officials said each mission was expected to last 24 hours, with 16 hours spent on the ocean floor, four hours’ diving and resurfacing time, and four hours to download data.

The submersible has a safety feature that brings it to the surface if it exceeds its performance capabilities, however.

The sea where the Bluefin-21 is searching is estimated to be about 4,500m deep, but experts say there could be variations on the sea floor.

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Robotic submarine Bluefin-21 will be deployed for the first time to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said the Bluefin-21 drone would be sent down as soon as possible to search for wreckage on the sea floor.

Teams have been using a towed pinger locator to listen for signals from the plane’s “black box” flight recorders.

But no new signals have been heard since April 8, amid concerns the flight recorders’ batteries have expired.

Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board. It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers over the South China Sea.

Malaysian officials believe, based on satellite data, that it ended its flight in the southern Indian Ocean, thousands of kilometres off course.

Teams searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane are to deploy robotic submarine Bluefin-21 for the first time

Teams searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane are to deploy robotic submarine Bluefin-21 for the first time

An international search has focused on waters west of the Australian city of Perth, with teams racing against time to detect signals before the flight recorder batteries – which last about one month – run out.

ACM Angus Houston, who heads the joint agency coordinating the search effort, said that given no signals had been detected in six days, it was time to go underwater.

The Bluefin-21 – an almost 5m-long underwater autonomous vehicle that can create a sonar map of the sea floor – will search for wreckage in an area defined by four signals heard last week.

Officials believe those signals – picked up by the pinger locator towed by an Australian vessel – are consistent with flight recorders.

“Analysis of the four signals has allowed the provisional definition of a reduced and manageable search area on the ocean floor,” ACM Angus Houston said.

“The experts have therefore determined that the Australian Defense Vessel Ocean Shield will cease searching with the towed pinger locator later today and deploy the… Bluefin-21 as soon as possible.”

Angus Houston warned that the submersible search would be a long, “painstaking” process that might, in the end, yield no results.

Each Bluefin-21 mission will last 24 hours, with 16 hours spent on the ocean floor, four hours’ diving and resurfacing time, and four hours to download data.

Australian vessel Ocean Shield had also spotted an oil slick in the same area where the signals had been heard, ACM Angus Houston said, and a sample was being sent for testing.

“I stress the source of the oil is yet to be determined but the oil slick is approximately 5,500m downwind… from the vicinity of the detections picked up by the towed pinger locator,” he said.

Australian officials have said previously that they are confident they are searching in the right area for the missing plane.

Officials have no idea yet why the plane diverted so far from its intended flight path. Investigators are looking at options including hijacking, mechanical failure, sabotage and pilot action.

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