Relatives of the missing 227 passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were confronted yesterday with the astonishing likelihood that searchers may have been scouring the wrong part of the ocean for two years.
Dutch engineering group Fugro, which is heading the search for the missing B777-200ER aircraft, now says the plane in its final moments may have glided down rather than dived, which would make all the difference to its whereabouts.
The Dutch misgivings came just a day or two after what appears to be a large section of wing from MH370 arrived in Canberra for detailed examination by the Australian Transport Safety Board. The remnant was found on a beach in Tanzania in June.
On 8 March 2014, MH370 disappeared from air traffic control radar after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on a scheduled passenger service to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard.
Searchers led by Fugro have been combing an enormous expanse of the southern Indian Ocean off Western Australia for two years. Key countries in the search – Malaysia, China and Australia – are meeting today in what is widely expected to result in a decision to terminate the search in about three months.
The fruitless search has so far covered about 120,000 square kilometres of ocean bed.
Following the latest bombshell, Reuters quoted Fugro project director Paul Kennedy making a truly memorable utterance.
“If it’s not there, it means it’s somewhere else,” Kennedy said.
Written by Peter Needham