KUALA LUMPUR: The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) that is leading the search for the missing MH370 jetliner in the Indian Ocean has deployed autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Bluefin 21.
The Bluefin has the potential to take the search and recovery operations further towards visual identification.
“As I said before, the aircraft wreckage needs to be identified before we can say with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370,” JACC chief Angus Houston told the media in Perth yesterday.
He said each mission conducted by Bluefin 21 will take at least 24 hours to complete.
“It will take the AUV two hours to get down to the bottom of the ocean. It will then be on task for 16 hours and it will take two hours to return to the surface and four hours to download and analyse the data it collected,” he said.
“I caution you (the media) against raising hopes the deployment of the AUV will result in the detection of the aircraft wreckage. It may not.”
He added an oil slick was detected by the Ocean Shield, which was towing the “ping” locator, in the same vicinity on Sunday.
“We don’t think its from the ships. So, where is it from is another lead for us to pursue,” said Houston.
He said a two-litre sample had been collected but it would be a number of days before it can be landed ashore and conclusively tested.
He said tests needed to be done to confirm or discount whether the oil slick was related to MH370.
Houston reiterated the last acoustic signal was detected on April 8 and Ocean Shield would cease using the “ping” locator.
He said the four strong underwater signals obtained in the past week, taken together, constituted the most promising lead.
He said Ocean Shield, equipped with side-scan sonar, would search the sea floor in the vicinity of the detected signals.
“The side-scan sonar transmits an active pulse which produces a high resolution three dimensional map of the sea floor,” he said.