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Director Peter Jackson's jet joins search for Malaysia Airlines plane

New ZealandPeter JacksonMalaysiaJames CameronMalaysia Airlines Flight 370

BEIJING -- Peter Jackson, the director of the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” film series, has lent his personal Gulfstream jet to the team searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Radio New Zealand reported.

Australian authorities said Monday that a civilian jet was providing “communications relay” to 10 military planes involved in the search but did not identify it further.

Radio New Zealand said Tuesday it received a tip that the civilian aircraft belonged to the director and New Zealand native, and confirmed with his representatives that the G650 aircraft was indeed his.

Gulfstream describes the 650 as an “ultra-high-speed, ultra-long-range business jet” that can carry eight passengers and a crew of four on nonstop flights of 7,000 nautical miles. Radio New Zealand said Jackson purchased the plane in March 2013 at a cost of about $68 million.

No word yet on whether “Avatar” director James Cameron’s one-man Deepsea Challenger sub might also join the hunt. In 2012 he used the vessel to dive solo nearly seven miles into the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific. He then donated it in 2013 to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts to be used for scientific research.

julie.makinen@latimes.com

Twitter: @juliemakLAT

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