The Australian Transport Safety Bureau continues to refine the area where the aircraft entered the water based on ground-breaking and multi-disciplinary technical analysis of satellite communication and aircraft performance, passed from the international air crash investigative team comprising analysts from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

All the available data indicates the aircraft entered the sea close to a long but narrow arc of the Indian Ocean. Prioritising the most probable search area along this arc is the focus of current activities.

Initial Search

The Australian Government accepted responsibility for search operations in the southern Indian Ocean on 17 March 2014.

The initial activities involved a surface search of the southern Indian Ocean for floating debris and a sub-surface search for the aircraft black boxes.

The surface search was coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), supported by the Australian Defence Force and other agencies.

The initial search phase involved 22 military aircraft and 19 ships, covering search areas of more than 4.6 million square kilometres. Civilian aircraft contracted to AMSA also participated in the search.

  • MH370 Facts and Statistics—Surface Search of the Southern Indian Ocean PDF: 39 KB ReadSpeaker


The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been leading, in consultation with Malaysia and China, the review and analysis of all data and information relating to the likely flight path of MH370, together with information acquired in the course of the search to date.

A bathymetric survey of the areas of the arc commenced in May. The bathymetric survey—or mapping of the ocean floor—is being done in preparation for the underwater search.

Further information is available here.

Underwater Search

The underwater search will involve a comprehensive search of the sea floor for a debris field and will utilise towed vehicles equipped with side scan sonar, synthetic aperture sonar, multi-beam echo sounders, with video cameras available to be deployed to locate and identify MH370.

This activity will need to be operated from specialised vessels by teams of qualified experts. On 6 August 2014, Australia awarded a contract to Fugro Survey Pty Ltd (Fugro) to conduct a search of the southern Indian Ocean sea floor for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The ATSB is leading the search using vessels funded jointly by Malaysia and Australia, including Fugro Discovery, Fugro Equator (which is currently being used to survey the search area) and GO Phoenix.


Once the search enters the underwater phase, the search of the priority areas is anticipated to take up to 12 months to complete.

Please see the ATSB website for further fact sheets on the search for MH370.