The personal jet of Oscar-winning movie director Peter Jackson has reportedly been called in to assist with the search for the missing Malaysian airliner.
Australian authorities co-ordinating the search for Flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board, said a civilian jet was being used to assist military aircraft scouring the Indian Ocean for any signs of the Boeing 777.
After initially denying it was Jackson’s jet, a spokesman for the New Zealand movie director confirmed his aircraft had been chartered to Australian authorities, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Radio New Zealand said Jackson, who directed the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, had personally approved the use of his Gulfstream G650 in the search.
The jet was not donated to help in the search effort, rather the company that operated the jet had accepted a charter offer, the report said.
Gulfstream describes the G650 on its website as an “ultra-high-speed, ultra-long-range business jet” and the “flagship of the Gulfstream fleet”.
It says it can carry eight passengers and a crew of four on nonstop legs more than 12,900 kilometres.
While Jackson’s jet is combing the ocean from above, a British navy submarine will join the search.
Britain’s Royal Navy submarine, HMS Tireless, arrived in the vast search area about 1500 kilometres northwest of Perth on Wednesday morning.
British navy vessel HMS Echo was also reached the search zone on Wednesday.
“British nuclear submarine HMS Tireless and survey ship HMS Echo have arrived in search area for #MH370,” Britain’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Simon Featherstone, said on Twitter.
While planes, ships and helicopters have been deployed to search for the crashed jet, HMS Tireless is the first submarine to be drafted in to help scour the 221,000 square kilometre search area.
The federal government’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said nine military planes would assist in the search on Wednesday, with one civil jet providing a communications relay.
JACC said nine ships would also be out searching.
The weather forecast is for “marginal conditions”, with areas of broken cloud, sea fog and isolated thunderstorms, reducing visibility, JACC added.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is set to arrive in Perth later on Wednesday before he visits the RAAF Pearce air base, the departure point for the seven-nation air search.
Australian defence vessel Ocean Shield is expected to reach the search zone on Friday with a pinger locator to find flight MH370’s black box.
The plane vanished on March 8, with 239 passengers and crew on board, including six Australians and two New Zealanders.