PETALING JAYA: The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released an acoustic sonar image of the southern Indian Ocean seabed in a new development following search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
The ATSB, which is leading the operation said: "The image is a synthetic aperture sonar acoustic image of the sea floor gathered by GO Phoenix.
"This is indicative of the resolution and quality of the data and that it is revealing important detail of the sea floor.
"In addition to locating the aircraft, the underwater search aims to map the MH370 debris field in order to identify and prioritise the recovery of specific aircraft components, including flight recorders, which will assist with the Malaysian investigation (into the plane's disappearance).
"The ATSB has utilised the data from the bathymetric survey work to prepare the initial plan for the underwater search, to be followed and referred to by all parties involved.
"The plan includes search timings, methods, procedures, safety precautions and the initial search areas for the various vessels.
"The equipment used on the vessels is providing extraordinary data," it added.
The bureau said more than 9,000 sq km of the ocean floor had been searched and about 200,000 sq km surveyed.
The search for MH370 resumed in October after being halted for four months to enable the mapping of the seabed of the search zone, which measures about 23,000 sq miles.
The bureau had also released a video showing a computer animation of the type of sea floor terrain in the search area, according to ABC News.
It quoted the ATSB as saying that three bathymetry survey vessels had been gathering the highly detailed data by using multibeam sonar in water depths of between 1,000m and 6,000m.
“The seabed mapping was crucial because so little was known about this part of the world,” ATSB said.
Flight MH370, with 239 people aboard, was en route to Beijing when it vanished about an hour after take-off from KL International Airport on March 8.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced that British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) had concluded that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
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