Mystery of missing passenger jet now 2 weeks old

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2014 at 11:45 pm •  Published: March 21, 2014

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Six Australian planes took off Saturday for a third day of scouring the desolate southern Indian Ocean for possible parts of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, now lost for two full weeks.

Australia promised its best efforts to resolve the mystery, but two days of searching the seas about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth have not produced any evidence.

A satellite spotted two large objects in the area earlier this week, raising hopes of finding the Boeing 777 that disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board.

Australia's Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters in Perth on Saturday that "so far, there have been no findings of note."

"It is a very remote area, but we intend to continue the search until we're absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile — and that day is not in sight," he said.

Bad weather hindered Friday's search but conditions in the southern Indian Ocean improved Saturday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in Papua New Guinea. He said that six aircraft were in the area plus an Australian naval vessel on the way.

The aircraft included two ultra long-range commercial jets and four P3 Orions, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

Because of the distance to the area, the Orions will have enough fuel to search for two hours, while the commercial jets can stay for five hours before heading back to the base.

Two merchant ships were in the area, and the HMAS Success, a navy supply ship, was due to arrive late Saturday afternoon. Weather in the search zone was expected to be relatively good, with some cloud cover.

Two Chinese aircraft are expected to arrive in Perth on Saturday to join the search, and two Japanese planes will arrive Sunday. A small flotilla of ships from China is still several days away. The Malaysian plane passengers included 154 Chinese.

AMSA officials also were checking to see if there was any new satellite imagery that could provide more information. The satellite images were taken March 16, but the search in the area did not start until Thursday because it took time to analyze them.

In Kuala Lumpur, where the Flight 370 plane took off for Beijing, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein called the process "a long haul" as he thanked the more than two dozen countries involved in a search that stretches from Kazakhstan in Central Asia to the southern Indian Ocean.

The Telegraph newspaper in London carried a report showing a transcript of the conversation between the pilots and traffic control before the plane disappeared. The paper said it may have been noteworthy because one of the pilots repeated his altitude about the same time a transponder was turned off.

Peter Marosszeky, an aviation expert at the University of New South Wales in Australia, cautioned against reading too much into the transcript as pilots occasionally repeat themselves.

"I've sat through many thousands of flights myself and it's not something that would really strike me as unusual," he said.

Without being able to hear the inflection in the pilots' voices, it's very difficult to determine whether anything said is truly noteworthy, he added.

"I'd love to hear the actual voice level of communication to see if there's any level of anxiety that might have been driving the pilot to say what he did," he said.