MH370 search area to be reviewed

International aviation experts and investigators will meet in Canberra this week to refine estimates of where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crashed as China reaffirms its commitment to go all out to find the missing plane.

The expert panel, including representatives from plane maker Boeing, will examine military radar data as a well as key information to ensure that the current synopsis of the flight path for MH370 is correct.

MH370 disappeared 57 days ago on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

According to sources in Canberra, any new conclusions will be presented in a report to be handed to civilian contractors who will spearhead the next phase of the search.

Until now, governments and investigators have been quiet about the role of military radar.

The only confirmed radar tracking has been that of Malaysia. Thailand, Singapore, China and Indonesia all have early warning radar systems but there has been no comment on if their radars picked up the MH370.

Australian officials are also silent on the roll of our over-the- horizon radar called Jindalee Operational Radar Network.

On Saturday, the China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre said it sent a special navy vessel that had "strong underwater search capacities", to the southern Indian Ocean. Wang Zhenliang, deputy head of the centre, said China "will go all out" to find MH370.

The ship is expected to arrive on location on Saturday.

Of the 239 passengers and crew aboard the ill-fated flight, 154 were from China.

The flight was also a code-share flight with China Southern Airlines.

The Australian ship Ocean Shield has left the search area for replenishment including fuel and is due in Fremantle tonight.

When it returns to the search area, it will resume the hunt with the Bluefin 21 autonomous underwater vehicle. So far the Bluefin 21 has scoured the ocean floor around the location of the second of four detected black box pings.

However, it cannot search the complete area where the first ping came from for two hours, because the ocean floor drops away well below the operational limits of the Bluefin 21.

It is expected the commercial contractor brought in to continue the underwater search will use a towed device called the Orion that can scan the ocean to a depth of 6000m. Aside from the depth the Orion can work to, its other big advantage is that the scan data is streamed live to the towing ship, saving time.

However, to scan the entire search area of 700km by 80km, could take up to eight months.

with agencies

The West Australian

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