The search for missing plane MH370 intensifies

Posted on: 21/10/2014

The mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 remains one of the most discussed news stories of all time with the search operation still in full force.Fugro Discovery mf02419a (2)

UK based marine winch company Romica Engineering have been contracted to help with the search. They have designed and are manufacturing a deep tow traction winch that enables sonar scanning of the sea bed up to a depth of 10,000 metres. Fugro Survey PTY Ltd Australia has two searcher class ships searching the Southern Indian Ocean, to the North-West of Australia. Both ships are equipped with Romica’s systems.

We interviewed Romica about this project for our Engineering Excellence programme. They gave a fascinating insight into the search for this plane and mentioned that the Chinese Government won’t scale down the search until the plane is recovered. Their robust winching systems will tSystemsow submerged unmanned vehicles to scan the seabed with sonar equipment and high-resolution video cameras.

Paul Kennedy, Project Director for Fugro’s MH370 Search, said: “The search for MH370 is being conducted in a harsh environment in an extremely remote part of the world. This requires the most reliable equipment which has low maintenance, a good spare part supply chain and is easy to operate. Romica provide such a winch.”

The ill-fated flight had 239 passengers and crew, who are also still to be located. The majority of these were Chinese, which explains the Chinese Government’s refusal to scale back the search operation.

Bob Turner, Director of Romica was clearly honoured to be entrusted with such a crucial task:

Romica Engineering Screenshot (2)

Bob Turner, Director, Romica Engineering

“We are delighted that the Fugro have once again selected Romica as a winch system supplier to enhance their expanding capabilities to support the search for MH370 in this difficult time. This contract for the supply of a deep tow traction winch allows Fugro to deploy sensors probing the ocean depths from either of the 2 Searcher class ships they currently have on task.”

Romica Engineering was founded in 2003 and has since emerged as a specialist in sub-sea lifting and winching. They have a huge range of high-level clients who they provide tailored winching solutions for. They also introduced a manufacturing plant in Romania, utilising their highly skilled engineering workforce.

I spoke to their Business Development Manager, Ian McFarlane, about how renewable energy targets are driving engineering advancements. He spoke passionately about the mass of untapped tidal energy, which can be garnered by sub-sea turbines. He explained that tidal has the advantage of being predictable in terms of timing, duration, direction and strength- these are the four key aspects of generating electricity in a predictable manor. One or more of these characteristics are lacking in wind, solar and wave energy.

This is an area that will require significant resources as sub-sea turbines will encounter extreme weather conditions and a large amount of abrasion. This looks to be a key area in the development of sustainable energy generation.

Our Engineering Excellence programme will broadcast on Sky Channel 212 later this year.

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Written by Martin Stocks | @Stocks1986