Canberra, May 15 (IANS): The underwater search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia has been suspended due to a technical glitch, the search coordination centre said Thursday.
The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Bluefin-21, was recovered about two hours into its first mission Wednesday since returning to the search area for investigating a communications problem, the Australia-based Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement.
It said that during the recovery Bluefin-21 was damaged but it could be repaired expeditiously with spare parts on board the Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield,”.
However, “examination of the communications problem has established that a hardware defect exists in the transponder mounted on the Ocean Shield and that a defect may also exist in the transponder mounted on the Bluefin-21”, the JACC said.
“This inhibits the ability of the two devices to communicate with each other.”
Spare parts for both defects will be dispatched from Britain and are expected to arrive in Western Australia Sunday.
“Ocean Shield is currently en route to Dampier, Western Australia, to receive the transponder parts. The journey is anticipated to take a number of days. At this stage, Ocean Shield is expected to go alongside so engineers can make a full assessment of the transponder repairs,” the JACC statement said.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.
The Boeing 777-200ER was scheduled to land in Beijing the same morning. The 227 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.