The worst possible news for the families of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: the Australians are about to call off the search for the wreckage of the plane.
The search is currently scheduled to last until around the start of next year but will be scaled back at the end of this month when one of the three vessels helping in the search is taken out of service.
The search for debris from the missing Boeing 777 has continued in the 15 months since its disappearance. The wide search area could be no smaller however because experts said it was "not possible to refine the search area to one of greater likelihood [of finding the plane]".
A JACC statement: "As announced in April, the search area has been expanded beyond an original 60,000 square kilometre search area to enable up to 120,000 square kilometres to be searched if required.
"In the absence of credible new information that leads to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, Governments have agreed that there will be no further expansion of the search area.
At the end of March, a spokesman for Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss indicated that the search would not go on forever due to obvious financial restrictions.
At that time a number of documentaries were aired to coincide with the plane's disappearance. Notably one recently uploaded to YouTube made by the UK's Channel Five, floats a number of possibilities ranging from cyber crime (where the plane could have been flown remotely) to a technical problem caused by a fire on board, which would explain why key navigation and communication system was 'switched off'. The documentary asserts that engine failure was unlikely on the Boeing 777 which has a formidable track record, although in 2008 a British Airways 777 crashed due to fuel lines freezing up, a design fault which Boeing has since corrected.
The pilots themselves are also under scrutiny by investigators. The more senior one having a flight simulator system as home which he built himself taking up some time of investigators who confiscated it and noted to media that key history information in it had been wiped the day before the flight. The co pilot, a younger man, has also drawn some attention for sloppy in-flight security as he was often said to have enticed young women to sit in the flight cabin with him during flights.
Yet two key questions remain to baffle investigators: how or why were communication beacons which relay all of the plans technical reports to the ground switched off (involving the physical pulling of switches)?; and secondly why did the plane diversify so far off its course the moment it reached a critical 'no man's land' between two radar controlled areas? Such questions, and more, fuel the theory of a terrorist incident of course although many of the experts interviewed are still uncomfortable with the notion as classic signs of a hijack are not apparent.
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