Malaysia to End MH370 Search
Malaysia's new Transport Minister has announced that the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will end on May 29.
U.S.-based exploration firm Ocean Infinity has nearly completed its search of the target area and not found it. Ocean Infinity had a 90-day “no cure, no pay” agreement with the government. If the wreck or black box is found, the company will receive $70 million. The company deployed the Seabed Constructor and a fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles to cover 86,000 square kilometers.
MH370, carrying 239 on board, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
The official, $200 million search for the plane continued for 1,046 days until January 17, 2017 when it was suspended in accordance with a decision made by the governments of Malaysia, Australia and China. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau released its final report in October last year, saying it is "almost inconceivable" the aircraft has not been found.
The initial surface search and the subsequent underwater search for the missing plane were the largest searches of their type in aviation history. The 52 days of the surface search involving aircraft and surface vessels covered an area of several million square kilometers. The underwater search started with a bathymetry survey which continued as required throughout the underwater search and has mapped a total of 710,000 square kilometers of Indian Ocean seafloor, the largest ever single hydrographic survey. The high resolution sonar search covered an area in excess of 120,000 square kilometers, also the largest ever search or survey of its kind.
There were no transmissions received from the aircraft after the first 38 minutes of the flight. Systems designed to automatically transmit the aircraft’s position including the transponder and the aircraft communications addressing and reporting system failed to transmit the aircraft’s position after this time. Subsequent analysis of radar and satellite communication data revealed the aircraft had actually continued to fly for a further seven hours. Its last position was positively fixed at the northern tip of Sumatra by the surveillance systems operating that night, six hours before it ended the flight in the southern Indian Ocean.
Re-analysis of satellite imagery taken on March 23, 2014 has identified a range of objects which may be MH370 debris. This analysis identifies an area of less than 25,000 square kilometers which has the highest likelihood of containing MH370.
Australian investigators at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau have rejected a claim, voiced recently on 60 Minutes, that the pilot deliberately brought the plane down. The Bureau contends that the pilot was unconscious during the final moments.