The Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) reported that the Bluefin-21 underwater vehicle completed its last mission searching the remaining areas in the vicinity of the acoustic signals detected in early April. No trace of the missing flight MH370 was found.
Since Bluefin-21 has been involved in the search, it has scoured over 850 square kilometres of the ocean floor looking for signs of the missing aircraft.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has advised that the search in the vicinity of the acoustic detections can now be considered complete and in its professional judgement, the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370.
As advised by the Australian Deputy Prime Minister on 5 May 2014, the search for MH370 continues and now involves three major stages:
- reviewing all existing information and analysis to define a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometres along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean;
- conducting a bathymetric survey to map the sea floor in the defined search area; and
- acquiring the specialist services required for a comprehensive search of the sea floor in that area.
The expert satellite working group continues to review and refine complex analyses of radar and satellite data and aircraft performance data to determine where the aircraft most likely entered the water.
The Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen has already begun conducting the bathymetric survey—or mapping of the ocean floor—of the areas provided by the ATSB. The bathymetric survey is expected to take about three months. Knowing the seafloor terrain is crucial to enabling the subsequent underwater search.
The underwater search will aim to locate the aircraft and any evidence (such as aircraft debris and flight recorders) to assist with the Malaysian investigation of the disappearance of MH370.
It is anticipated that this component of the search will begin in August and take up to 12 months.
The ATSB will shortly release a formal request for tender to source the capability to undertake the underwater search.