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RNZAF Orion Completes 13th Sortie in Search for MH370

Air Warfare officer and Information Manager, Flying Officer Deborah Haines scans the Southern Indian Ocean in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Air Warfare officer and Information Manager, Flying Officer Deborah Haines scans the Southern Indian Ocean in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Photo courtesy of CPL Janine Fabre of the ADF

30 March 2014

The RNZAF P-3K2 Orion taking part in the search for evidence of the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 returned to RAAF Base Pearce, near Perth in Western Australia, shortly before 3.30am New Zealand time today after an 11-hour flight, bringing its total flying  time in the search operation to over 127 hours in the past 21 days.

Today is a crew rest day and the next sortie is currently scheduled for 1pm New Zealand time on Monday.

Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Kevin Short, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said that the aircraft spent four hours searching its assigned area.

"The crew reported sighting 70 pieces of debris on this flight, but most are not of interest to this search. Until items are picked up by a ship and assessed by expert investigators, no conclusions as to their origin can be made," he said. There are now several ships in the search area.

"We also dropped two sonar buoys on this flight, which will both assist the recovery ships to find the debris, and narrow the overall search area, as real-time drift can be accurately measured. "
 AVM Short said the replacement crew from No 5 Squadron at Whenuapai which took over on Friday had quickly adapted to the time zone and the search cycle.

"They, and our P-3K2 Orion aircraft, are performing extremely well. It's difficult and demanding work, scanning the ocean for small items, even flying low over the water at comparatively slow speeds. It requires total concentration. Our people are getting very good results for such a search - they are very well trained and since the recent upgrade, our P-3K2 Orions are amongst the most sophisticated aircraft of their type in the world," he said.

ENDS

For more information contact the Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980

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