Oct. 3 (UPI) — Despite more than 1,000 days of searching, the search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 has ended, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said on Tuesday.
In its final report, the ATSB noted that the underwater search mapped nearly 300,000 miles of Indian Ocean sea floor. The search for the plane lasted from March 2014 until January 2017, making it one of the largest searches of its type in aviation history.
The challenge for investigators was the limited amount of data they had to work, with including some aircraft performance information and satellite communication metadata, data found during the underwater search, and long-term drift studies to trace the origin of MH370 debris.
Data from the plane’s location was limited because no transmissions were received from the aircraft after the initial 40 minutes of flight. Automatic detection systems were unable to transmit the plane’s position after this time, further limiting investigators.
In 2015 and 2016, debris from MH370 was found on the shores of Indian Ocean islands and near the east African coastline. The debris gave investigators and scientists significant new evidence that allowed them to pinpoint the exact area where the plane may have ended its flight.
“The underwater search area was located up to 2,800 km west of the coast of Western Australia and the prevailing weather conditions in this area for much of the year are challenging,” the report said. “Crews on the search vessels were working for months at a time in conditions which elevated the operational risks.”
Of 661 areas of interest identified as locations for the crash, 82 were thoroughly investigated.
Although the understanding of where MH370 may be located is better now than it has ever been and despite the efforts of investigators, the aircraft still hasn’t been located.
“The reasons for the loss of MH370 cannot be established with certainty until the aircraft is found,” the report said.
“It is almost inconceivable and certainly societally unacceptable in the modern aviation era with 10 million passengers boarding commercial aircraft every day, for a large commercial aircraft to be missing and for the world not to know with certainty what became of the aircraft and those on board.”
Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was lost from a flight from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing in China. The Boeing 777 was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. It was thought to have blown off course and crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
In 2017, Malaysia Airlines said it has become the first carrier to enlist to a satellite flight tracking system that will monitor the location of company’s fleet worldwide.