A New Zealand air force crew searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has found a yacht in distress of the coast of Perth.

"We were returning from a sortie in search of evidence of MH370 when we were retasked to investigate a reported distress beacon," said RNZAF Orion pilot, Flight Lieutenant Dave Smith.

"Using the signal from the beacon and our radar we were able to locate the yacht Elkan with one person on board. The yacht was sinking with the water line level to the top of the hull.

"We were then able to assist a rescue helicopter from Perth to locate the vessel and effect a rescue by winching the person to safety.


"We had limited time available to us before we had to land so it was great to be able help with the rescue," the Southlander said.

So far, about 40 RNZAF personnel have been part of the hunt for MH370, and the P-3K2 Orion has searched around 1.5 million square kilometres of the Southern Indian Ocean - an area about eight times the size of New Zealand.