MH370 search resumes off WA

The most complex and costly search in aviation history will resume in a new area in the Indian Ocean further south after the operation to find MH370 was suspended late last month.

As revealed in _The West Australian _last week, the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew, will be in a 60,000sqkm zone in an area searched in late March.

The search area is 1700km due west of Perth and 650km long by 93km wide.

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said yesterday that US, British and Australian investigators, as well as representatives of plane maker Boeing and satellite company Inmarsat, analysed satellite and plane data to define an area with the highest probability of finding the Malaysia Airlines jet after operations were put on hold on May 28.

_The West Australian _understands four independent groups were formed and all came up with the same search area.

Crash investigator Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search, said "refinements to the analysis of both the flight and satellite data have been continuous since the loss of MH370".

Backing up the shift in the search, ATSB released a 64-page report yesterday detailing its analysis.

The revised area was the subject of a surface search from days 21-26 in late March.

The first stage of the new search involves the Chinese navy ship Zhu Kezhen and the civilian ship Fugro Equator that are mapping 60,000sqkm of the sea bed.

The mapping is essential before a deep-sea towed side-scan sonar operation begins.

The mapping ships use multibeam sonar, which is capable of collecting high-quality data to depths up to 6000m.

The Federal Government is receiving bids from companies until the end of the month for the latest deep-sea search that will start in August and could take a year.

The aim is to find any crucial evidence, such as wreckage and flight recorders, to help with the Malaysian investigation.

As part of the search, the ATSB will contract experts to localise, identify and map the debris field of MH370 using specialist equipment.

The West Australian

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