Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which has been missing since March 8, is "very likely" in the current search area in the Indian Ocean, according to Martin Dolan, the chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Dolan, who heads the search operation being conducted from Australia, also told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the plane could probably be in good condition despite being underwater for more than 10 months.
“Our satellite calculations gave us an area we determined was high priority,” Dolan reportedly said. “In this 60,000 square kilometers (about 23,166 square miles), it's very likely we will find the aircraft, but we don't know exactly where. We just have to cover that area thoroughly.”
Dolan said that authorities believed that the aircraft is about 13,000 feet below the ocean's surface, adding: "It's just that it's a very large area, so it's going to take a long time," AFP reported.
The search for the missing jet resumed in early October and is expected to be completed by May 2015, depending on factors like weather conditions and the operability of search vessels. Three vessels -- Fugro Equator, Fugro Discovery and GO Phoenix -- are currently involved in the search for the missing plane in the southern Indian Ocean where the Boeing 777 is believed to have crashed, while a fourth vessel is expected to join the operation in late January.
The current vessels use sophisticated sonar systems attached to tow cables, while the new Fugro Supporter will have an autonomous underwater vehicle, Dolan reportedly said.
"(It) can be programmed and cover areas much more thoroughly. It's of course a lot slower," Dolan said. "We need to go slow so that we can be 100 percent sure that we have covered that area totally."
Authorities are also reportedly ready with a recovery plan if the aircraft, which went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board, is found.
Investigators believe that the final resting place of the aircraft could be along the seventh arc, which has been described as “a thin but long line that includes all the possible points where the last known communication between the aircraft and the communication satellite could have taken place.”