The search for wreckage of the crashed Boeing 777 resumed on Wednesday after the weather improved, with Chinese ships and Korean planes joining the mission over a vast stretch of the Indian Ocean, about 2,000km southwest of Perth.
Six countries are now involved in the operation – Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, China and South Korea – after the MH370 vanished on March 8, with 239 passengers on board.
The US Navy has sent a device to help find the jet’s black box of flight and cockpit voice data, along with a robotic underwater vehicle.
Another black box detector will reportedly be fitted to the Australian ship, Ocean Shield, which is due arrive in the search area on April 5.
University of Sydney associate professor Peter Gibbens said it was a “race against time” to detect and recover the black box, which may have sunk to the bottom of the southern Indian Ocean.
He said acoustic signals from the data recorder would fall silent in about two weeks.
“They (recovery teams) are going to be pushing it with time,” professor Gibbens told AAP.
“The chances are stacked against them.”
“They’re only going to have a few days at best, the transmitter is supposed to last for 30 days but it could be 28 or it could be 35, it depends on the specifics of the battery.
“They’ve got a big area to trawl.”
Professor Gibbens, from the university’s School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, said another challenge was the depth of the ocean in the area, said to be more than 4,000 metres in some parts.
“That’s a long way down,” he said.
“They’re going to need some fairly good sonar equipment to find the wreckage.”
Another hurdle was that it could take up to a day for an unmanned vehicle to reach the underwater wreckage.
“Then they have to isolate where it (the black box) is on the fuselage,” Professor Gibbens added.
Wednesday’s search covers 80,000sq/km and includes 12 aircraft.
Two ships, Australian ship HMAS Success and China’s polar supply ship Xue Long, are also in the search area.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the search will continue until there’s no hope of finding anything.