Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 Timeline of AMSA's involvementDisclaimer

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At 0041 on Saturday 8 March 2014, a Boeing 777, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, takes off from Kuala Lumpur airport on a six hour flight to Beijing, China.

At 0141 MH370 disappears from air traffic controllers' screens.

There are 239 people on board.

Malaysian authorities begin a massive search of the South China Sea but there is no sign of the missing aircraft.

After analysis of satellite data it is discovered that MH370 continued to fly for over six hours after contact was lost. The satellite transmissions indicate the plane must have travelled on one of two corridors; one to the north in the direction of Kazakhstan and one to the south into the Indian Ocean.

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17 March

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority assumes coordination for the Southern Corridor search

Events

  • Following discussions between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, AMSA assumes responsibility for coordination of a search in Australia's search and rescue region.
  • The search area is being developed and refined, in conjunction with other agencies.
  • Discussions are held with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) regarding the availability of additional aircraft capable of operating at long distance into the Southern Indian Ocean.
  • AMSA issues a broadcast to shipping at 5:38pm.

Media releases

Twitter updates

18 March

A 600,000 square kilometre search area

Events

  • The US National Transportation Safety Board determines a search area 2,500 kilometres from Perth and 600,000 square kilometres large – an area the size of France ('Search launched in Indian Ocean' - Canberra Times, 19 March).
  • A RAAF P3 Orion relocates from Cocos (Keeling) during the night. Three other RAAF P3 Orions also commence search activities in the area.
  • AMSA and the ADF hold a joint press conference.

Media releases

Twitter updates

Search charts

18 March search chart - overview

Videos

Media briefing

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

General manager of AMSA's emergency response division John Young and Group Captain Stuart Bellingham from Head Quarters Joint Operations Command update the media on Australia's search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Rescue Coordination Centre B-roll/Overlay footage

Rescue Coordination Centre B-roll/Overlay footage (video thumbnail)

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Stock footage of AMSA's search and rescue officers coordinating the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra.

19 March

A search area the size of New South Wales

Events

  • The search area is refined to approximately 305,000 square kilometres, 2,600 kilometres from Perth.
  • Search conditions in the area are moderate.
  • Three merchant ships respond to a broadcast to shipping issued by RCC Australia. One merchant vessel transits the area and two others undertake a search and assist.
  • A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion and a United States Navy P8 Poseidon join the search.

Twitter updates

Videos

Update - John Young

Day 2 Update - John Young (video thumbnail)

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

General manager of AMSA's emergency response division, John Young, gives an update on the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

20 March

Satellites spot objects

Events

  • The search continues.
  • AMSA's RCC receives commercial satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search for the missing aircraft. The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation assessment of them is 'credible'; however, they may not be related to the aircraft.
  • As a result of this information, four aircraft are reoriented to the 23,000 square kilometre area, 2,500 kilometres south west of Perth.
  • A RAAF C-130 Hercules is tasked to drop datum marker buoys to assist in drift modelling.
  • By the end of the day, two RAAF P3 Orions, a US Navy P8 Poseidon, a RNZAF P3 Orion and a RAAF C-130 Hercules aircraft have assisted in the search.
  • A total of six merchant ships have assisted in the search since a shipping broadcast was issued on Monday night (17 March).
  • The HMAS Success is en route to the area.

Twitter updates

Photos

Satellite images

Source: DIGITAL GLOBE

Commercial satellite imagery provided to AMSA of objects that may be possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in a revised area 185 km to the south east of the original search area. The imagery has been analysed by specialists in Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation and is considered to provide a possible sighting of objects that has resulted in a refinement of the search area.

Satellite image 1 Satellite image 2

Videos

Media briefing

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

General Manager of AMSA's Emergency Response Division John Young and Air Commodore John McGarry from Defence give an update on the search for Malaysia Airlines' flight MH370. AMSA took coordination of the search for MH370 in the southern Indian ocean on Monday at the request of the Malaysian government.

Rescue Coordination Centre B-roll/overlay footage

Day 3 Rescue Coordination Centre B-Roll/Overlay footage (video thumbnail)

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Footage of AMSA's search and rescue officers coordinating the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra.

21 March

The weather improves for search

Events

  • The search continues.
  • Search conditions improve, with visibility much better than on Thursday. The weather is fair.
  • Five aircraft assist in the search today, including three RAAF P3 Orions, a US Navy P8 Poseidon and a Bombardier Global Express.
  • By the end of the day, two merchant ships are in the search area.
  • The distance from the search area allows for approximately two hours of search time.
  • Seven SES volunteers from Victoria are tasked as air observers.

Media releases

Twitter updates

Photos

AMSA Search and Rescue photos

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Australian Maritime Safety Authority Search and Rescue Officers coordinate the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra.

AMSA Search and Rescue, workers AMSA Search and Rescue, search charts AMSA Search and Rescue, search charts AMSA Search and Rescue, search charts AMSA Search and Rescue, workers

Videos

Update - John Young

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

General Manager of AMSA's Emergency Response Division John Young gives an update on the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines' flight MH370.

22 March

Chinese satellites spot objects in the search area

Events

  • AMSA tasks six aircraft to be involved in today's search, including three RAAF P3 Orions, an RNZAF P3 Orion, and two ultra long range commercial jets.
  • The search area is 36,000 square kilometres, 2,500 kilometres south west of Perth.
  • The search area experiences good weather conditions, with visibility of around 10 kilometres and moderate seas.
  • The P3 Orions have an endurance of two hours search time, while the ultra long range commercial jets can search for five hours.
  • 10 SES volunteers from Western Australia are tasked as air observers.
  • Two merchant vessels are in the search area. The HMAS Success is en route.
  • Four self-locating datum marker buoys continue to report water movement data back to AMSA.
  • A civil aircraft tasked by AMSA reports sighting a number of small objects, including a wooden pallet, within a radius of five kilometres.
  • A RNZAF P3 Orion with specialist electro-optic observation equipment is diverted to the location, but only reports sighting clumps of seaweed.
  • Another datum marker buoy is dropped to track the movement of the material, and a merchant ship is tasked to relocate and identify it.
  • In the evening, China provides a satellite image to Australia, possibly showing a 22.5 metre floating object in the Southern Indian Ocean. AMSA plots the position but the object is not sighted on Saturday. The information is taken into account for Sunday's search plans.

Twitter updates

23 March

Two search areas

Events

  • The search area is split into two areas within the same proximity, covering a cumulative 59,000 square kilometre area. The western boundary of the area is about 2,500 kilometres south west of Perth. These areas have been determined by drift modelling.
  • Early on, the search area experiences fog, particularly in the western areas, however conditions improve during the day.
  • A total of eight aircraft are tasked to undertake the search, including two Bombardier Global Express, a Gulfstream 5, an Airbus 319, a US Navy P8 Poseidon and Australian Military aircraft.
  • The HMAS Success also supports the search effort.
  • 20 SES volunteers from WA are tasked as air observers on board the civil aircraft.
  • The Deputy Prime Minister visits AMSA.

Twitter updates

Videos

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss visits the Rescue Coordination Centre

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, General Manager of AMSA's Emergency Response Division John Young and Rescue Coordination Centre Chief Mike Barton give an update on the search for MH370.

24 March

Malaysian PM declares MH370 ended in the Southern Indian Ocean

Events

  • 10 aircraft are involved in the search today. The three civil aircraft are two Bombardier Global Express planes and an Airbus aircraft.
  • The two search areas cover a cumulative 68,500 square kilometres, 2,500 kilometres south west of Perth.
  • Weather is expected to deteriorate, with rain likely.
  • 20 SES volunteers from WA will be air observers on board the civil planes.
  • Two Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft are tasked to join the search, as well as two P3 Orions from Japan.
  • The US P8 Poseidon and two RAAF P3 Orions also take part in the search.
  • HMAS Success remains in the search area. A number of Chinese ships are en route.
  • A Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 reports sighting objects. The US Navy P8 Poseidon attempts to relocate the objects but is unable to do so.
  • Other objects are spotted by a RAAF P3 Orion and HMAS Success is tasked to locate them. One object is grey or green and circular, the other is orange and rectangular.
  • A P3 Orion also spots objects, and the HMAS Success attempts to relocate them but is unable to.
  • The Malaysian PM declares based on INMARSAT advice that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 ended in the Indian Ocean.

Twitter updates

Photos

Air and maritime search operations

Source: Department of Defence

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Pilot Flight Lieutenant Adam Francki at the controls of an AP-3C Orion on route to RAAF Base Pearce Western Australia after searching the southern Indian Ocean as part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Flight Engineer Warrant Officer Neil Scott-Jackson onboard an AP-3C Orion on route to RAAF Base Pearce Western Australia after searching the southern Indian Ocean as part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Aircraft Captain Flight Lieutenant Josh Williams at the controls of an AP-3C Orion on route to RAAF Base Pearce Western Australia after searching the southern Indian Ocean as part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Aircraft Captain Flight Lieutenant Josh Williams at the controls of an AP-3C Orion on route to RAAF Base Pearce Western Australia after searching the southern Indian Ocean as part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Warrant Officer Michal Mikeska operates the radar station onboard an AP-3C Orion over the southern Indian Ocean as part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Sergeant Chris Platt operates the electro-optic station onboard an AP-3C Orion over the southern Indian Ocean as part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. HMAS Success sweeps through the search area in the southern Indian Ocean on 22 March, 2014, during the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The photo was taken from an RAAF AP-3C Orion patrol aircraft. Sergeant Chris Platt (rear) and Warrant Officer Michal Mikeska prepare a Self Locating Datum Marker Buoy for launch in the southern Indian Ocean during a sortie in support of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Aircraft Captain Flight Lieutenant Josh Williams (left) discusses fuel consumption with flight engineer Warrant Officer Neil Scott-Jackson while on route to the southern Indian Ocean as part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Videos

Update - John Young

Day 7 update (video thumbnail)

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

General Manager of AMSA's Emergency Response Division John Young gives an update on today's search for Malaysia Airline's flight MH370.

25 March

Bad weather halts search

Events

  • The search is suspended due to adverse weather.
  • The HMAS Success departs the search area, to return once weather conditions improve.
  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirms the focus is now on search and recovery of any objects related to MH370.

Twitter updates

26 March

Six countries involved

Events

  • A total of six countries are now assisting in the search and recovery operation – Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea.
  • The search area is split into three areas covering a cumulative 80,000 square kilometres.
  • Weather conditions improve.
  • HMAS Success travels back to the search area to conduct a surface sweep for objects of interest at the location pinpointed by a RAAF P3 Orion on Monday.
  • Chinese polar supply ship Xue Long also arrives on scene.
  • The search today involves 12 aircraft, including: one Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft from China, a P3 Orion from Japan, a P3 Orion from the Republic of Korea, two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion, a United States Navy P8 Poseidon, and a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion and five civil aircraft.
  • 34 SES volunteers from WA are air observers on board the civil aircraft.
  • AMSA received satellite information from the Malaysia Remote Sensing Agency on 26 March. The positions indicated are within Wednesday's search area.
  • Unrelated to that satellite information, three objects are spotted by two aircraft, but are unable to be relocated.
  • Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Abbott meets with the Australian families of those lost on MH370. He also gives a message of condolence to the families in Parliament. The families are briefed at AMSA and given a tour of the RCC.

Twitter updates

Photos

Air and maritime search operations

Source: Department of Defence

A Japan Maritime Self Defense Force member marshalls a P3-C Orion, as it prepares to depart RAAF Base Pearce for possibly the last Japanese air search mission for MH370. The crew of HMAS SUCCESS attend an Anzac Day dawn service held whilst the ship is deployed on Operation SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN in search of evidence of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Flying Officer (FLGOFF) James Tobin, a co-pilot with the No. 92 Wing Detachment deployed on Operation Southern Indian Ocean, at the controls of an AP-3C Orion. FLGOFF Tobin is posted to No. 11 Squadron, at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia. Leading Seaman Aircrewman Joel Young mans the doorway of HMAS Toowoomba's S-B70-2 Seahawk helicopter during Operation SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN - the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Lieutenant Raina Taggart uses the range finder binoculars to gauge the distance to HMAS Success from the starboard bridge wing of HMAS Toowoomba during preparations for a Replenishment at Sea during Operation SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN. Chris Minor from Phoenix International steadies the Phoenix Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Artemis as the AUV was craned off the deck of Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Crew of HMAS SUCCESS enjoy freshly made hot cross buns as HMAS SUCCESS spends the Easter period at sea on Operation SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN. A Port Services berthing party stand at ease and prepare for Malaysian Navy Ship KD Lekiu to come alongside at Fleet Base West, Garden Island, in Western Australian. Royal Malaysian Navy Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Dato' Abd Hadi bin A. Rashid speaks to the Royal Malaysian Air Force Detachment on his visit to the RAAF Base Pearce. Commanding Officer of the Chinese Coast Guard vessel Haixun 01, Captain Jiang Long (right), briefs (from the left) Senior Colonel Ma Liedong, Staff Officer Sub-Lieutenant Phillip Wagner, and Commander Joint Task Force 658, Commodore Peter Leavy, RAN about the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 while the ship was in port at Albany, Western Australia. Able Seaman Communications and Information Systems Atlanta Heysen, carries out damage control board plotting in the Machinery Control Room onboard HMAS Toowoomba, during Operation SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN, in search of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Boatswain's Mate, Able Seaman Morgan Macdonald stands by on the port rigid hull inflatable boat to launch as HMAS Perth transits through the Southern Indian Ocean as part of Operation SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN, HMAS Perth is in search of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

27 March

Bad weather and a new search area

Events

  • Today the search area is split into two, covering a cumulative 78,000 square kilometres.
  • Weather is expected to deteriorate.
  • Six military aircraft, five civil aircraft and five ships are participating in the search for the MH370 in the Australian Search and Rescue Region today.
  • HMAS Success is joined by four Chinese ships: Xue Long, Kunlunshan, Haikou and Qiandaohu.
  • Two RAAF P3 Orions, a Japanese Gulfstream jet, a US Navy P8 Poseidon, a Chinese Ilyushin and a Japanese P3 Orion fly sorties during the day. Five civil aircraft will also fly to the search area.
  • The search is suspended early due to poor weather.
  • The Australian Transport Safety Bureau receives new information as it seeks to refine the search area.

Twitter updates

Videos

AMSA and ATSB media briefing

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

General Manager of AMSA's Emergency Response Division John Young and Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan give an update on the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

28 March

Objects spotted from the air

Events

  • On Friday 28 March, the search area shifts 1,100 kilometres to the north east, based on updated advice provided by the international investigation team in Malaysia.
  • The new search area is approximately 319,000 square kilometres and 1,850 kilometres west of Perth.
  • The credible new lead is based on continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost.
  • 10 aircraft are involved in today's search, including: two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orions, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a Republic of Korea C130 Hercules, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion, a Chinese military Ilyushin IL-76, a United States Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft, a Japanese coast guard jet, a Japanese P3 Orion and a civil aircraft acting as communications relay.
  • Six vessels set off for the new search area, including HMAS Success and five Chinese ships.
  • AMSA and the ATSB hold a joint press conference to provide more details.
  • A US towed pinger locator and Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle arrive in Perth to assist with location and recovery of the black box.
  • Weather conditions have improved since the Thursday.
  • Five aircraft spot multiple objects of various colours. Haixun 01 is tasked to relocate the objects on Sunday.

Media releases

Twitter updates

Videos

Media briefing

Media briefing (video thumbnail)

Source: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

General Manager of AMSA's Emergency Response Division John Young and Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan give an update on the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

29 March

Objects unrelated to MH370

Events

  • On this day, a total of 252,000 square kilometres is searched.
  • Weather is reasonable for searching, however visibility is reduced to about four kilometres with rain showers.
  • The objects sighted the day before prove not to be related to MH370.
  • Search activities involve a total of eight aircraft, including: three Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orions, a Japanese Coast Guard jet, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion, a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin IL-76, and one civil jet acting as a communications relay.
  • Four ships reach the search area, with a further five ships to arrive the following day. HMAS Success and Haixun 01 retrieve a number of objects; however, the objects are examined and not believed to be related to MH370.

Twitter updates

30 March

Nine aircraft and eight ships

Events

  • The search area is 319,000 square kilometres, 1,850 kilometres west of Perth.
  • Nine aircraft are involved in the search today, including: two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orions, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin IL-76, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a United States Navy P8 Poseidon, a Malaysian Air Force C-130 Hercules and two civil aircraft.
  • Eight ships are tasked to the search.
  • Weather in the search area is forecast to worsen today with light showers and low cloud.
  • The US underwater towed pinger locator and AUV are fitted to Ocean Shield.
  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces that Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC AFC is to lead a new Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) in Perth. The JACC will coordinate the Australian Government's support for the search into MH370.

Twitter updates

31 March

The JACC becomes operational

Events

  • JACC becomes operational. AMSA's communications to media, government agencies and diplomatic posts are redirected via JACC.
  • Search activities involve 10 aircraft, including: one Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion, one Japanese P3 Orion, a Japan Coast Guard Gulfstream jet, a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin IL-76, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a United States Navy P8 Poseidon, two Royal Malaysian Air Force C-130 Hercules and one civil jet acting as a communications relay.
  • Some parts of the search area will experience low cloud and rain throughout the day.
  • 10 ships are tasked to the search, including HMAS Success, HMAS Toowoomba, seven Chinese ships and a merchant vessel.
  • On Monday night, ADV Ocean Shield departs HMAS Stirling with a towed pinger locator.

Media releases

Twitter updates

As the search for MH370 transitions from a search and rescue operation to an investigation phase the Joint Agency Coordination Centre takes over the day to day communications.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) continues to coordinate the surface search but is now part of a larger interagency response including the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Department of Defence, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

All these agencies continue the search as part of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre.

Disclaimer

This timeline has been developed as an historical resource to preserve for the record the public information released by AMSA during the period in which AMSA was the lead agency in the search for Malaysia Airline's flight MH370.

During this period AMSA released a large amount of public information in the form of press conferences, media releases, images, charts, video, audio files and social media posts.

This content has been preserved in this timeline without amendment and in the order in which it was released. This timeline was developed as the events occurred. AMSA reserves the right to provide corrected information in the future if any inadvertent errors occurred when this information was first published.

The information contained in this webpage is not a comprehensive report on all of AMSA's operations during this period and as such is only intended to provide an overview of AMSA's public communications and not an official version of events.

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