Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will, for now, remain missing after confirmation from Australia, China and Malaysia that the search effort has ended.
Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester, China’s Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng and Malaysian Minister of Transport Liow Tiong Lai said in a joint-statement on Tuesday the 120,000 square kilometre underwater search in the Indian Ocean has been officially suspended after failing to locate the Boeing 777-200ER, 9M-MRO.
“Today the last search vessel has left the underwater search area,” the ministers’ statement said.
“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.
“Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended.”
The Ministers said the decision to suspend the search “not been taken lightly nor without sadness”.
“Today’s announcement is significant for our three countries, but more importantly for the family and friends of those on board the aircraft,” they said.
“We again take this opportunity to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives and acknowledge the enormous loss felt by their loved ones.”
An Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) report published in November said the flap from the aircraft’s right wing was “most likely in the retracted position at the time it separated from the wing”.
Further, the ATSB said the right flaperon was “probably at, or close to, the neutral position at the time it separated from the wing”.
The findings, alongside additional analysis of the satellite communications data was “consistent with the aircraft being in a high and increasing rate of descent at that time”, the ATSB said.
“Additionally, the wing flap debris analysis reduced the likelihood of end-of-flight scenarios involving flap deployment,” the report said.
The findings suggest it was unlikely the aircraft crashed into the ocean following a controlled rate of descent.
The three countries have previously expressed a willingness to extending the search for aircraft, which disappeared enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014 carrying 239 passengers and crew, if there was credible new evidence which led to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft.
However, Tuesday’s joint statement said there was not enough new data to continue the search.
“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,” the ministers’ said.
“We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located.”