IT has been two years since Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared without a trace, carrying with it 239 passengers and crew members.
Many questions surround what happened during the flight and what led to its disappearance, but few answers have been found.
Even so, Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which has led search operations for the missing airplane, remains optimistic.
Speaking to The Guardian, Dolan predicted that the plane is likely to be somewhere in the 30,000-odd sq km yet to be searched.
“We’ve covered nearly three-quarters of the search area, and since we haven’t found the aircraft in those areas, that increases the likelihood that it’s in the areas we haven’t looked at yet,” he said.
Dolan said he believed the aircraft would be found before the search is completed, which is expected to be around July.
The search operation is said to cost some US$133.3 million, which is footed by Australia and Malaysia, with an additional US$14.8 million from China.
The Safety Investigation Team for MH370 also released an interim statement today, announcing that a final report will be completed “in the event that wreckage of the aircraft is located or the search for the wreckage is terminated, whichever is the earlier”.
Its brief statement concludes: “At this time, the Team is continuing to work towards finalising its analysis, findings/conclusions and safety recommendations on eight relevant areas associated with the disappearance of flight MH370 based on available information.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak issued a statement to mark the second anniversary since the Boeing 777 vanished.
Najib said he was still hopeful that the aircraft would be found in the 120,000 sq km area currently under investigation, adding that the wing part found on France’s Reunion island last July was evidence that the flight had tragically ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
“The disappearance of MH370 was without precedent, and the search has been the most challenging in aviation history. Amidst some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain – at depths of up to six kilometres, across underwater mountain ranges, and in the world’s fastest currents – the search team have been working tirelessly to find MH370’s resting place,” he said.
He added that the current search operation was expected to be completed later this year, and if the search came up empty-handed, then Malaysia, Australia and China would hold a meeting to determine the way forward.
Recently, two pieces of plane debris were found washed up on the shores of Reunion island and Mozambique. The plane parts, one believed to be a horizontal stabilizer and the other an unidentified gray part with a blue border, are suspected to be from MH370, or at least from a Boeing 777.
Both parts have been sent for analysis to confirm whether or not they are from the aircraft in question.
Additional reporting by Associated Press.