It’s like searching for a needle in a thousand haystacks. When it was announced that Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 had crash landed somewhere in the Indian Ocean, a huge search process was launched – but how difficult can be to find a huge plane?
Think of it this way. For the search planes to reach the point in the Indian Ocean to begin searching is the equivalent to flying from the UK to Moscow. The vastness of the search area is difficult to comprehend, with over 254,000 sq km being scoured. The area is around 1,150 west of Perth, Australia and over the past few days, the exact search area has altered as new evidence emerges. After focusing on a specific section of the ocean, the search then moved over 600 miles as it was thought the plane may have been travelling faster than initially predicted.
In addition to the sheer distance the search must cover, the weather in the Indian Ocean can be extremely unpredictable. This makes it even more difficult for both planes and boats to conduct a thorough and meticulous search. With the likes of Australia, Japan, China, the US and Malaysia all working to look for the missing plane, over 20 ships and planes were utilised on Monday alone.
…the equivalent to flying from the UK to Moscow…
One of the main priorities is in finding MH370 is locating the flight’s onboard black box flight recorder. The black box, which is actually red, releases ultrasonic pings which can be tracked, but so far the box has not been located.
Several pictures have emerged of debris floating in the sea, and this could prove crucial in the search for the missing flight. The plan is to gather as many pieces of debris belonging to the plane, marking their position and then putting that data into a very complicated computer model which can then give a clearer idea of why and how the debris has ended up where it is. Scientists say that it’s impossible to tell if bits of debris do indeed belong to the missing flight without analysing them first. The Indian Ocean can be turbulent, so pieces of debris from land and other boats are very common.
…questions still remain about MH370’s fateful journey…
To combat the sheer distance of ocean that must be searched, Digital Globe, have been encouraging members of the public to join the search. The company, who specialise in digital images taken from satellites, offer a website that encourages people to search bit by bit through the ocean. Since the plane went missing on the 8th of March, the website has been visited 385 million times. Of the 4.7 million bits and bobs that have been flagged up by users as unusual debris, it’s unknown if any of those are directly linked to the missing flight.
Many questions still remain about MH370’s fateful journey. Why did the course of the plane change in the first place? Was the plane hijacked or was it an accident? Did the plane run out of fuel after flying off course? Time is running out for the Malaysian government as distraught family members of those on board begin to lose patience and struggle with the lack of concrete information released to the public.