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Missing plane's flight path to be re-examined

International experts will again analyse data to ensure crews are searching in the right area for missing flight MH370.

Last updated: 05 May 2014 10:04
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Australia hosted a meeting in Canberra with the transport ministers of Malaysia and China [Reuters]

A panel of experts will re-examine all data gathered in the nearly two-month-old hunt for the missing Malaysia plane to ensure search crews who have been scouring a desolate patch of ocean for the aircraft have been looking in the right place.

Officials from Malaysia, Australia and China met in the Australian capital on Monday to work out the next steps in the search for Flight MH370, which will centre around on a patch of seafloor in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia, the AP news agency reported.  

The area became the focus of the hunt after a team of analysts calculated the plane's likeliest flight path based on satellite and radar data.

Angus Houston, head of the search operation, said that data would be re-analysed and combined with all information gathered so far in the search.

Officials also said on Monday that it could be up to two months before new, more sophisticated equipment would be in the water to help the search across what will be largely unmapped ocean floor.

'Optimistic'

The hunt for the missing plane that disappeared on March 8 carrying 239 people was scaled back last week after coming up with nothing, despite an air and sea search of 4.64 million square kilometres of the southern Indian Ocean.

Australia on Monday hosted a meeting in Canberra with the transport ministers of Malaysia and China to determine the way forward, which will focus on an intensified undersea search.

China is involved because two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese, while the plane is believed to have gone down in Australia's search and rescue territory.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss admitted the hunt would take time, with the ocean bed in the prospective search zone several kilometres deep and largely unmapped, meaning specialist sonar equipment and other autonomous vehicles are needed.

"We are optimistic that we can do most of this in the space of one to two months so we will actually have more hardware in the water within a couple of months," he said after meeting Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Chinese counterpart Yang Chuantang, the AFP news agency reported.

"In the interim we'll still have the Bluefin-21 working and we'll get going on the oceanographic work that needs to be done so they'll be no long interruptions in this search."

The submersible Bluefin-21 has been scouring the seabed in an area where undersea transmissions were detected, believed to have come from the plane's black box flight recorders before their batteries died.

It was due back in Perth with the Australian navy vessel Ocean Shield on Monday for maintenance and software modifications before returning to the search zone.

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