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Australia to deploy flying air traffic controller

Tuesday - 4/1/2014, 1:16am  ET

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, 2nd right, speaks with members of the Royal Australian Air Force currently based in Perth searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 during his visit to RAAF Base Pearce near Perth Monday, March 31, 2014. Abbott said the weekslong search for the plane is "an extraordinarily difficult exercise" but it will go on as long as possible. (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)

ROB GRIFFITH
Associated Press

PERTH, Australia (AP) -- Australia is deploying a modified Boeing 737 to act as a flying air traffic controller over the Indian Ocean to prevent a mid-air collision among the large number of aircraft searching for the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that went missing over three weeks ago.

According to an Australian government briefing note read out to The Associated Press by an official, the air force is sending an E-7A Wedgetail equipped with advanced radar to start monitoring the search zone Tuesday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Ten planes and nine ships were taking part in Tuesday's search for Flight 370, which vanished March 8 with 239 people bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

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McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia.


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