Since it is now very unlikely that surface debris will be spotted, Australian Transportation Safety Board (ATSB) officials say, the search must be continued underwater. Some 60,000 sq km of the southern Indian Ocean seafloor will be mapped over three months using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle with mounted sonar and optical imaging equipment. A Chinese survey ship has already begun work on the project and will be joined by a commercial survey vessel in June:
The search will be a major undertaking. The complexities and challenges involved are immense, but not impossible. The best minds from around the world have been reviewing, refining and localising the most likely area where the aircraft entered the water, which is why we remain confident of finding the aircraft.
After the mapping is completed, the ATSB plans to consult with authorities, including oceanographic institutions and private companies, to prepare for the next phase in the search.