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RNZAF Continues Search for Signs of MH370

The crew of the P-3K2 Orion involved in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 at Butterworth, Malaysia
The crew of the RNZAF P-3K2 Orion involved in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 at Butterworth, Malaysia

23 March 2014

The RNZAF P-3K2 Orion based at RAAF Base Pearce, near Perth in Western Australia, is in the air again tonight NZ time searching in the Southern Indian Ocean for evidence of the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The aircraft landed back into RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia at 1.30am today after 11 hours in the air, bringing its total flying hours in the search operation to 84 over the past 14 days.

Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Mike Yardley, Air Component Commander at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand, said that the aircraft searched the entire area allocated to it and also another smaller area nearby, where it dropped a GPS marker buoy to measure the drift rate in the area, before it began its four-hour flight back to base.

"Unfortunately there were no sightings of interest on last night's patrol - all they saw was seaweed.

"They took off again at 6pm NZ time today and are now on the way back out there again. Today's search area is 200 nautical miles closer to Australia but it's still a long way - we're estimating a total flight time of 11 hours with about four hours of search time," he said.

The crew will have a rest day tomorrow and the aircraft is expected to fly again on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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

Background
The P-3K2 Orion aircraft provides airborne surveillance of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Pacific region and the Southern Ocean, including Antarctica, in support of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. New Zealand has the ninth longest coastline and the fifth largest maritime Economic Exclusive Zone in the world, an area 15 times our land mass. Our maritime area of interest is approximately one-twelfth of the world's ocean surface.

The P-3K2 Orion provides a range of services to Government agencies (including the Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Customs and Police) and the community, including search and rescue missions, humanitarian relief and support during natural disasters. New Zealand’s 30-million square kilometre search and rescue region is one of the largest search and rescue areas in the world, covering a large part of the Pacific Ocean from the Equator to the Antarctic, and from half-way to Australia to half-way to Chile.

Specifications
Aircraft 
                P-3K2 Orion
Manufacturer    Lockheed (USA)
Powered plant   Four Allison T56-A 14 engines (4 600 shaft horsepower)
Length          36m (117ft)
Wingspan                30.4m (99ft)
Height          10.3m (34ft)
Basic Weight    30,450kgs (67 000lbs)
Gross Weight    54 950kgs (127 500lbs)
Max Fuel                27300kgs (60 000lbs)
Cruising Speed  630km/h (340kts)
Ferry range             approx. 7,100km (3,850NM)
Typical performance
Radius of action of 1850km (1000NM) with four hours on station. Endurance of 15 hours with two engines shut down to conserve fuel.

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