Malaysian Flight MH370: Search will be most expensive ever, warns salvage expert

 

Some small and as yet unidentified objects were said to have been recovered from the Indian Ocean on Saturday but experts have warned that salvaging MH370 in some of the world’s deepest and most turbulent waters will not be easy.

David Mearns, owner of Blue Water Recoveries in West Sussex and one of the world’s most experienced deep-sea shipwreck salvagers, described the efforts that would be undertaken to recover the plane that disappeared with 239 people on board on 8 March.

He said that the seabed some 1,800km (1,100 miles) from Perth, Western Australia, may not be “precisely mapped out” which could rule out many systems for recovering any parts of the Boeing 777 that may have sunk. He said the operation would be divided into two phases: recovery and salvage.

“Only a small number of systems have the technology to search that far,” he said. “A handful of companies will have the equipment and necessary expertise within their teams to do this.”

The wreckage may be contained in what Mr Mearns described as a “ search box” covering hundreds of nautical miles. “It’s going to be the biggest search box ever, many times bigger than any other tragedy. This will take months, maybe years,” he said. “They’ll need to cover the entire area of where the wreckage ranges from, including the seabed. There is a part of fortune to it, in terms of finding a piece of wreckage which could reduce the time, but it all comes down to luck and the equipment.”

In what Mr Mearns predicted would become the most expensive search ever, specialist teams would only recover what was required to answer why MH370 vanished from radar screens.

Read more: Search teams 'tantalisingly close' to finding wreckage
So many 'credible leads' - and still no sign
Theories: Black holes, aliens and trips to the Moon

He warned that once parts of the plane were returned to Perth – where it now looks likely the investigation will be based – it would take “a year or two” for causes of the crash to be confirmed. He added: “I can’t see it being solved easily.”

Tech wishlists

The bizarre tale of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 comes at a time when flying is safer than ever.

Aviation safety advocates say there are lessons to be learned, starting with the need for tamper-proof equipment that would stream data in real time to satellites and reveal a plane’s position. Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the US Department of Transportation, which includes the Federal Aviation Administration, would like to see the full “black box” data — a massive amount of information about a plane’s performance – — streamed to ground locations during flight. Only days remain to find MH370’s black box before it stops functioning. “It would have been immensely helpful here,” she said.

Each box is designed to withstand fire and high pressure. Search teams are hoping the detection equipment will be able to pick up acoustic pings emitted every second from the plane’s black box flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

Sam Masters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This law firm is seeking a happy, helpful and ...

The Jenrick Group: Production Supervisor

£26000 - £29000 per annum + Holidays & Pension: The Jenrick Group: Production ...

The Jenrick Group: Project Engineer

£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'