NAS aviators help search for Malaysian plane
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft and crew out of NAS Jacksonville is in the southern Indian Ocean helping search for any sign of missing Malaysia Flight 370.
The search continued again Friday more than 1,000 miles southwest of Perth, Australia, for a debris field of what could be missing pieces of the airliner. Bad weather made things difficult for crews Thursday, and even though the weather was better Friday, crews report they found nothing.
Leaders of the VP-16 squadron in Jacksonville say it's been a tiring few weeks for search crews.
Early Friday, the P-8A Poseidon aircraft was set to take off, but it can only hold so much fuel before needing to head back to Perth, Australia.
"It takes the airplane three hours to transit to on station. The airplane can remain on station executing search operations for three to four hours before it returns to base at Perth," said Navy Capt. Sean Liedman.
Beyond the challenges of weather and distance, the debris field seen in satellite images may have moved.
"Floating objects in the maritime domain move around significantly due to wind and current and wave action," Liedman said. "Sometimes as much as 3 to 4 mph. So over the course of a 24-hour period, floating debris could move by as much as maybe 75 miles."
In the course of nine hours the P-8A searched on Friday, it covered a 1,200-sqaure-foot area.
And although nothing has been found so far, Liedman says the crew won't give up looking.
"We'll continue to search until the mission is complete or we move on to the next phase of the search -- until more information comes to light to refine our search area," Liedman said.
VP-16 consists of 20 people: nine aviators and 11 people on the ground for maintenance support.