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Mar 30, 2016

Major effort mounted to restore MH370 search's sharpest eye

Last week's abrupt loss of the sharpest and deepest diving sonar scanner being used in the sea floor search for MH370 has spurred the start of a major recovery operation.


The Remora III device which will be used to help retrieve a lost towfish
The Remora III device which will be used to help retrieve a lost towfish

Last week’s abrupt loss of the sharpest and deepest diving sonar scanner being used in the sea floor search for MH370 has spurred the start of a major recovery operation.

China’s heavy duty rescue vessel Dong Hai Jiu 101 had its synthetic aperture sonar towfish break free in waters 3650 metres deep for unexplained reasons, with serious implications for the efficiency of the searching of the remaining 25,000 square kilometres of the south Indian Ocean priority zone for the sunk wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER.

The jet, with 239 people on board, disappeared from air traffic control screens on 8 March 2014, on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing while over the Gulf of Thailand.

In this week’s search update the ATSB which is managing the search, says:

Dong Hai Jiu 101 is at Fremantle, awaiting the arrival of Phoenix International’s Remora III remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The ROV will be deployed in the SLH‑ProSAS‑60 towfish recovery operations

The Remora III’s specifications include sonar scanning capabilities and an optional suite of a full complement of salvage tools.

The lost towfish is critical to examination at very high resolutions very deep and complex terrain that the ATSB has for sometime said might not have been fully explored during earlier search activities, as well as in the area remaining to be examined in a search expected to end sometime in July.

It will be able to resolve the two ‘black box’ (bright orange) recording devices on board the flight, one for sounds in the cockpit , and the other tracking the performance or operations of dozens of channels of information, including a history of cabin pressurization changes, the use of cockpit doors, electrical functions and changes in direction and altitude.

If found, the sunk wreckage may also include passenger phones or tablets containing data chips on which photos of what happened on board the flight could be recovered.

In a statement included in the update the Malaysian authorities confirm the authenticity of the two fragments of wreckage recovered on Mozambique.

The examination and analysis on the debris discovered in Mozambique was carried out in Australia by international experts from the Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370, the ATSB, the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia and Boeing. The experts were also assisted by specialists from Geoscience Australia and the Australian National University.

The Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team has advised that:

  • the dimensions, materials and construction of both parts conform to the specifications of a Boeing 777 aircraft;
  • the paint and stencilling on both parts match those used by Malaysia Airlines; and
  • as such, both parts are consistent with panels from a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, and are almost certainly from MH370.

The Malaysian statement acknowledges with gratitude the findings made there by Blaine Gibson and Liam Cotter, as well as by Johnny Bègue, who found the wing flaperon on La Réunion last July.

The next update may also bring confirmation of what appears to have been part of an engine cowling recently found on a beach in South Africa.


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11 thoughts on “Major effort mounted to restore MH370 search’s sharpest eye

  1. Dan Dair

    “data chops”….

    are they anything like Pork Chips.?

    Spellcheck can be a bigger, can’t it.?


  2. Raven Usher

    The revelations on Four Corners about Prime Minister Najib were fascinating, but not particularly surprising.

    It was intriguing to see former PM, Dr Mahathir Mohamed in there as well, sticking the knife into his former protégé.

    In his days as PM, of course, Mahathir pretty much wrote the book on nepotism and corruption in Malaysia. He and his family are now worth billions.

    Not long after MH370 went missing, he made some rather odd claims which were reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, 19 May 2014, as follows:

    “…“Someone is hiding something. It is not fair that MAS and Malaysia should take the blame,” he wrote. Dr Mahathir suggested the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency had knowledge of the disappearance of the plane with 239 people on board but was not sharing it with Malaysia. He also claimed that Boeing, the plane’s maker, and “certain” government agencies, have the ability to remotely take over control of commercial airliners such as the missing Boeing 777.“For some reason, the media will not print anything that involves Boeing or the CIA,” he said…”

    Mahathir is known for playing to his home audience of ethnic Malays, and has often blamed the USA and westerners in general for Malaysia’s problems.

    These conspiracy theories he’s promoting about ‘the CIA’ and ‘Boeing’ are plainly ridiculous. Yet he made the claims just a matter of weeks after MH370 went missing – when most people thought the plane could be found at any time.

    Mahathir’s staggering wealth, and fingers in multiple pies, make him very well connected. If MH370 was lost as a result of criminal activity in high places, he would likely have a good idea of what happened.

    It’s as if Mahathir knew – with absolute certainty – that MH370 wasn’t going to be found.

    Were his claims a classic ‘red herring’ tactic, to divert attention away from the truth?

  3. Dan Dair

    Raven Usher,
    IMO the Four Corners show wasn’t made for anyone with an interest in aviation.

    The show was made for those who didn’t realise it was still missing or perhaps didn’t know it had gone missing in the first place.???

    It could have probably been better-made had the producers trawled through the material raised here on this blog, for example & there are many other equally well or ill-informed sites out there that have discussed this subject.?

    As is usual with programmes of this nature, it was sensationalist & not very independently investigative.

    The fact that the reporter & cameraman were arrested certainly helped ‘hype’ the show & give an air of ‘why arrest them if there’s nothing to hide ?’ about it.

    IMO the show brought nothing new to the table.?

  4. Tango

    Is it fair to debunk another theory?

    It makes as much sense as any of the rest.

  5. Raven Usher

    @ Dan Dair,

    I agree, however, it’s good to see all these issues getting a good airing to a mass audience.

    Most importantly, it’s sure to get plenty of views online from people within Malaysia, and – who knows – could help flush out more information about MH370.

    BTW, for some real in-depth digging on Malaysia, check out ‘The Sarawak Report’, whose Editor was interviewed by Four Corners.

    It is not aviation oriented, but it makes a good accompaniment to ‘Plane Talking’, for insights into how the Malaysian elite conduct themselves.

  6. Chris Randal

    Perhaps the towfish snagged on what is left of the wreckage?

  7. Dan Dair

    Chris Randal,
    “Perhaps the towfish snagged on what is left of the wreckage?”

    That would at least be something positive….

    It’s much more likely that it’s crashed into another previously unmapped sea-mount.?

  8. Ben Sandilands

    Funny. I was torn between a bit of equipment failing or a handler failing.

  9. Tango

    US Fast attack keeping an eye on the wreck sheared it off!

    Its there to keep the Martians from snagging it.

  10. Dan Dair

    Bloody hell, Tango,
    I send you off to do a simple ‘hit’ on Ted Smith
    & you come back convinced that his crazy ideas were right all along……??????
    I thought you knew what you were doing.?
    Remind me to take your name off my list of suitable ‘business’ contacts.!

  11. Dan Dair

    On an equivalently unlikely note to this A380 story,
    is this Telegraph UK story;


    & this was in January, well before ‘Boom’ was announced.

    Worth looking at if only for the fantastic headline photo, which I don’t think I’d ever seen before.?


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