20 October 2017 © David Eyre
The Malaysian Government will resume the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, after agreeing to a “no find, no fee” arrangement with Ocean Infinity, a US-based seabed exploration company.
Australia will provide technical assistance, at the request of the Malaysian government.
MH370 mystery disappearance
Flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200ER registered 9M-MRO, disappeared on 8 March 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China with 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard.
It has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history, and the biggest and most expensive serach in history, estimated to cost $200 million, with authorities unsuccessfully searching 120,000 square kilometres of the ocean floor after a fruitless air and surface search by ships and aircraft.
The initial search was led by the Malaysian Government, focused on the Gulf of Thailand, where MH370’s transponder last transmitted. However, the Malaysian military tracked the aircraft passing west, back over Malaysia, and then south, so another search area was added over the northern part of the Indian Ocean.
Following analysis of ACARS satellite data, it was found that MH370 continued to fly for over six hours after contact was lost. The available data indicated the aircraft entered the sea close to a long but narrow arc of the southern Indian Ocean, so the search efforts focused there.
An extensive search and rescue effort was undertaken by military and civilian aircraft and ships from several countries, but no debris was located.
In Western Australia, the search aircraft operated during March and April 2014, from RAAF Base Learmonth near Exmouth as well as RAAF Base Pearce (north of Perth) and Perth Airport.
On 31 March 2014, following an extensive sea and air search, the Malaysian Government accepted the Australian government’s offer to take the lead in the search and recovery operation in the southern Indian Ocean in support of the Malaysian accident investigation.On behalf of Australia, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is leading search operations for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.
At a meeting of Ministers from Malaysia, Australia and the People’s Republic of China held on 22 July 2016, it was agreed that should the aircraft not be located in the current search area, and in the absence of credible new evidence leading to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, the search would be suspended upon completion of the current search area.
On 20 December 2016, the ATSB suggested a new, smaller search area of 25,000 square kilometres.
The Australian, Malaysian and Chinese governments issued a joint statement on 17 January 2017, that the search was suspended.
ATSB final report
In August 2017, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau reported that new evidence had narrowed the search area down to an area half the size of Melbourne, centred on a position at 35.6°S, 92.8°E.
French military satellite images of floating objects – some man made – in the southern Indian Ocean taken a couple of weeks after the disappearance of MH370 are thought to indicate the crash site. These images were disregarded by the Malaysian authorities (the ATSB was not involved at that time).
At least 20 parts from the aircraft have washed up on the shores of Madagascar and Reunion Island off the African coast and extensive drift modelling has been undertaken to try to confirm the crash location.