Search for MH370 called off after new theory about resting place is ruled out

Australia, Malaysia and China say no new information on plane's location has been found

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Australia, Malaysia and China have suspended the search for missing Malaysian airlines flight MH370.

The Boeing 777, which left Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, disappeared on March 8th, 2014.

The plane quickly left areas covered by radar and was presumed to have reached an isolated arc of the Indian Ocean to the west of Australia. That was selected using analysis of seven handshakes between the plane and satellites.

Debris from the plane was found in 2015 and later confirmed to be from the aircraft, leading to analysis of drift patterns in an effort to determine its likely location. But those efforts and the search for the plane using seabed scanning could not find the plane. Conditions in the search zone were tough and the ships conducting the search were often unable to do their best work. One even lost an underwater robot when a tow cable connector failed.

Efforts to locate the plane eventually turned up a new theory, based on analysis of debris and satellite pings, that the plane came in steep and fast, leading to a review in which it was suggested the plane may have come down short of the search area.

Despire the new modelling, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre that has overseen the search issued a Joint Communiqué announcing the hunt for the plane has been discontinued.

“Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft,” the Communiqué says. “Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended.”

“Whilst combined scientific studies have continued to refine areas of probability, to date no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft,” it adds, pouring cold water on the December report.

239 people were aboard the plane when it disappeared. The families of the missing have been vocal in their calls for extended searches.

But the Communiqué appears unequivocal, opening as follows:

“Today the last search vessel has left the underwater search area. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not been located in the 120,000 square-kilometre underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean.”

It ends on a more hopeful note, saying “We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located.”

Note, also, that the Communiqué says the search has been “suspended”, rather than finalised. The Register mentions that distinction because several individuals and groups have advanced theories about the plane's location. If any turn up credible evidence, it's conceivable that the the search might one day resume, perhaps with private funding. ®

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