The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will continue despite a leading expert being sent to Ukraine to oversee the recovery of bodies of Australian passengers aboard MH17.

Australia's deputy prime minister, Warren Truss, has assured that efforts to find the missing plane will not be delayed due to the absence of Angus Houston, the head of the search operation, who has been sent by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the crash site in eastern Ukraine.

Australia lost 28 citizens in the shooting down of the Boeing 777, which was widely blamed by pro-Russian separatists, last week.

"Our commitment to that [MH370] is not in any way diminished by MH17,'' said Truss.

"Clearly there have been things needed to be done urgently in relation to 17 but there is absolutely no interruption to the programme for 370.''

Search crews are currently mapping the ocean floor off the western coast of Australia before resuming the 23,000sq km underwater search in the southern Indian Ocean in September. It is expected to take up to 12 months.

The disappearance of MH370, which was carrying 239 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March, has been dubbed one of the world's greatest ever aviation mysteries.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said its work had continued uninterrupted and that Houston's role will be temporarily filled by Judith Zielke, a senior Australian civil servant.

"We remain fully committed to conducting a thorough undersea search of the likely impact zone in the Indian Ocean," Truss said in a statement.

"Australia owes it to the families of all of those on board MH370, the travelling public and indeed the wider world to solve this mystery."