After three years of looking and with no real results, the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been suspended. The Boeing 777 vanished from radar on March 8, 2014, and except for a few pieces washing up on African beaches, no trace of it has been found.
Ever since the plane disappeared international efforts have combed through over 45,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean, where the missing craft was initially thought to be located.
Today, the search was suspended, reports the AP, citing an announcement from the Joint Agency Coordination Center in Australia, which led the hunt:
Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting-edge technology, as well as modeling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft.
Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended. The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness.
Over $160 million has been spent by China, Australia and Malaysia in recovery efforts since late last year. Experts said that the search should have been conducted in a smaller area north of where the efforts were taking place, but the three agreed over the summer that they weren’t going to expand further unless new evidence emerges that helps pinpoint the plane’s location.
Predictably, the announcement was met with outrage, according to AP. Voice 370, a support group for the relatives of those lost on the plane, responded that furthering the search is “an inescapable duty owed to the flying public.”
They have a point. If we don’t recover the plane, then we’ll never know what happened on board and we won’t know how to prevent it from happening again.
The case of the missing flight MH370 is one of the most peculiar cases in modern aviation history, simply because a plane carrying 239 people aboard seemed to simply vanish. Various theories have circulated as to why, including the plane being shot down, terrorist hijacking, alien abduction (unlikely) and fire. None have been proven or disproven.
We’ve shown that we can find missing crashed planes—like we did with Air France flight 447.
For MH370, the AP reports that investigators analyzed transmissions between the plane and a satellite:
Based on the transmissions, they narrowed down the possible crash zone to a vast arc of ocean slicing across the Southern Hemisphere. Even then, the search zone was enormous and located in one of the most remote patches of water on earth—1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) off Australia’s west coast. Much of the seabed had never even been mapped.
The search was “painstaking,” and yet still no conclusive evidence has been found.
Last fall, a flaperon belonging to MH370 was found on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean. Additionally, a left outboard trailing edge and right outboard flap that were found were “almost certainly” from the plane as well.
Whether or not the search will continue in some diminished capacity remains unclear.