— Malaysia says recent satellite images have spotted 122 possible objects related to the search for the wreckage of a missing Malaysia airliner in the southern Indian Ocean. The search resumed Wednesday with 12 aircraft and naval vessels from China, Australia, the United States, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand scouring waters 2,500 kilometers west of Australia. As the search for flight MH370 goes on, aviation analysts say the investigation will likely trigger calls for reform in air security and communications.
Malaysia's Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters Wednesday the potential debris was located in French satellite photos taken on March 23.
"Some objects were a meter in length, others were up to 23 meters in length. Some of the objects appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid material. The objects were located approximately 2,557 kilometers from Perth," he said.
While stressing it is not yet confirmed the objects are parts of the missing aircraft, he said the development represents "another new lead" in the investigation.
A total of seven military and five civilian aircraft from six nations took to the skies over the Southern Indian Ocean Wednesday as weather conditions improved renewing the search for the Malaysian Boeing 777, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board.
Expanded search under way
Australia's Maritime Safety Authority said vessels from Australia and China, including the polar supply vessel Xue Long
, were 2,500 kilometers west of Perth searching some 80,000 square kilometers. Australia's HMAS Success
was sweeping a region where an Australian P3 Orion aircraft had sighted possible debris two days ago.
In the Australian Parliament Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, renewed a pledge to Malaysia in the efforts to locate the last position of the aircraft.
"I have pledged to Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia full Australian cooperation in the recovery and investigation operation. The crash zone is about as close to nowhere as its possible to be but it's closer to Australia than to anywhere else," said Abbott.
Abbott moved a motion of condolence to those lost, while families of four Australians onboard the ill-fated flight sat in the visitor's gallery.
"Four Australian families have an ache in their heart. Nothing we say or do can take that ache away. Still the knowledge that this nation through this parliament has paused to acknowledge that loss may be of some comfort in facing this terrible bereavement. May God bless you at this very sad time," said Abbott.
Australia is easing visa and immigration procedures to enable families, especially from China, to travel to Perth, Australia, the center of search and recovery efforts. The local Chinese community in Perth has offered to assist the visitors. Of the 227 passengers on board, some 153 were Chinese.
Oliver Lamb, managing director of Sydney-based Pacific Aviation Consulting, said he remains optimistic search efforts will succeed in locating the missing aircraft.
"There's too much, too much of an industry riding on what happened here. Everybody in whatever country absolutely puts safety first, and I'm almost certain that every effort, every human possible effort to get that black box or black boxes I should say will actually happen," said Lamb.
Reforms likely in air security, communications
So far, little is known why less than an hour after departing Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, MH370 veered west as its flight transponder stopped transmitting.
Only communication "pings" from the plane's engines provided clues on the aircraft's direction. The Malaysian government, aided by a British satellite tracking company, has narrowed down the aircraft's final position in the southern Indian Ocean, far from land.
Lamb said the aviation industry is set to ensure aircraft can be tracked at all times.
"It seems to me odd in the 21st century that a plane can go missing for so long. The ability to track planes irrespective of what goes on in the cockpit or the like is a step that the industry is going to have to make," said Lamb.
Initial fears of a terrorist take-over of the flight came after it was revealed that at least two passengers were travelling by way of Beijing to Europe under false passports.
Hugh Ritchie, managing director with Aviation Consultants International, said issues from improved passport monitoring to security affecting communications are all set to come under the spotlight as the industry comes to grip with the issues surrounding flight MH370.
"There's a multitude of areas which need to be reviewed; we are talking about aviation security, border controls, integrated safety management systems, charging the 'black box' so it has a greater capacity to be tracked, on board capacity to turn off voice recorders, cockpit data recorders," said Ritchie.
More than 25 countries have backed the search for the missing Malaysian airlines jet backed by some of the most sophisticated satellite and search technology in the world.
The Bluefin 21, the Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), is hoisted back on board the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, April 4, 2014.
Flight Lieutenant Stephen Graham monitors a TAC station onboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia, April 4, 2014.
Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force Commander Hidetsugu Iwamasa speaks to the press in front of one of their P-3C Orion aircraft currently at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth, Australia, April 4, 2014.
Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 pray in a prayer room, Beijing, China, April 4, 2014.
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak tour RAAF Base Pearce, near Perth, April 3, 2014.
Steve Wang a representative from the committee for relatives of Chinese passengers onboard Flight MH370 talks to journalists after a closed door meeting with Malaysian officials via teleconference in Beijing, April 2, 2014.
A crew member sits in the cockpit of a Royal New Zealand Air Force patrol aircraft as it continues searching in the southern Indian Ocean for Flight MH370, April 1, 2014.
Koji Kubota of the Japan Coast Guard keeps watch while flying in the search zone for debris from Flight MH370, April 1, 2014.
A Buddhist monk welcomes Chinese relatives of passengers on Flight MH370 as they arrive to pray at a Buddhist temple in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, March 31, 2014.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the international forces currently based in Perth searching for Flight MH370 during his visit to RAAF Base Pearce, March 31, 2014.