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Malaysia Airlines MH370's Jet Engines Are Likely Intact: Officials

The key to finding the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 could be in the aircraft's colossal jet engines, officials said Wednesday.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370's engines are likely intact on the ocean floor and could play a key role in locating the missing jetliner, officials said Wednesday. Three specialized search ships have mapped 65,600 square miles of seabed — an area about the size of Florida — without finding a trace of the aircraft that vanished almost nine months ago. Investigators have now calibrated their search equipment to the specific size of the Boeing 777's giant turbofan engines — which are the largest of any commercial airliner.

"When we stipulated the requirements for the current search we thought about the smallest items that we would need to detect and we knew that the aircraft engines and the landing gear would remain relatively intact," Australian Transport Safety Bureau search coordinator Peter Foley told a press conference in Canberra. "The other possibility of course, if the aircraft is relatively intact, is we may see something a bit more complete in terms of the structure of the aircraft." The theory is based on Air France Flight 447. Its debris was discovered two years after it crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in November 2009. The doomed Airbus A330's engines were of a similar size to the 777.

This Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China, in March.Jonathan Morgan file

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- Alexander Smith and Shanshan Dong