The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet — one of the greatest aviation mysteries ever — is entering its third week, with still the slimmest of leads on where to look.
Chinese aircraft are expected to arrive Saturday to join the hunt far southwest of Australia in the southern Indian Ocean, where two large objects were spotted by a satellite this week.
An airborne search on Thursday and Friday turned up no trace of the objects, but the area is so far from land — miles southwest of Perth — that aircraft can only stay for a couple of hours before having to turn back to refuel.
Six aircraft, including four P-3 Orions from Australia and New Zealand and two long-range commercial jets, were to make the trip Saturday, Australian authorities said. Two merchant ships are also in the search area, and the Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Success was expected to arrive late Saturday afternoon.
A U.S. P-8 Poseidon aircraft searched Friday but will be grounded Saturday for planned maintenance and a pilot rest day, the U.S. Navy said.
So far, the Australians say, there have been no sightings of debris.
"It's about the most inaccessible spot that you could imagine on the face of the Earth, but if there is anything down there, we will find it," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday at a news conference in Papua New Guinea.
Most of the passengers on board the Boeing 777-200 were Chinese, and China is sending ships to the area, but they’re still days away. Two aircraft from Japan are also expected to arrive in Perth on Sunday to help, the AP said.
On Friday, relatives of Chinese passengers about the missing flight accused Malaysian authorities of withholding information about the investigation. A Malaysian delegation met with a committee of family members to try to reassure them that everything is being done to find the jet.
— NBC News' Courtney Kube and Miriam Firestone contributed to this report.
First published March 21 2014, 3:26 PM