The current search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane on the Indian Ocean seabed could be completed within a week, Australian officials say.
The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), named Bluefin-21, will again explore the seabed of the remote 10km circle of ocean off the West Australian coast on Sunday.
It is here where a signal, believed to be from one of flight 370’s black box recorders, was detected on April 8.
The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) says it is happy with how the underwater search is progressing, although plans have changed due to weather and other unforeseen circumstances.
If the weather continues to allow them to launch and recover the AUV, the centre says the search of the 10km radius should be completed in five to seven days.
The news comes after Malaysia’s transport minister said the effort to find the plane was at a “very critical juncture”.
“So I appeal for everybody around the world to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on,” Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Saturday.
It has been more than six weeks since the Boeing 777 vanished on March 8, carrying 239 people.
The Australian-led search effort is relying on the single US Navy submersible sonar scanning device to scour an uncharted seabed at depths of around 4,500 metres or more.
Bluefin-21 has made six deep-sea scanning runs but has detected nothing.
“We have pursued every possible lead presented to us at this stage, and with every passing day the search has become more difficult,” Hishammuddin, who is heading up the Malaysian government’s response to MH370, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
He said some adjustments to the search may be made, including “widening the scope of the search and utilising other assets that could be relevant in the search operation”.
He stressed, however, that the search would not be abandoned.