In a big blow to family members, the aviation community and the flying passenger, Malaysian officials announced Wednesday that the latest search for flight MH370 will be called off after four years, coming to an official end on May 29, according to Malaysia’s new Transport Minister.
The latest search effort restarted on January 21 after a search by Malaysia, Australia and China ended unsuccessfully last year. The latest search by seabed intelligence firm Ocean Infinity has covered 96,200 square-kilometres since January and in the final stretch, weather was forecasted to be moderate, the company’s latest update said.
The announcement came on the same day as Voice370, a group representing family members, released an open letter shared by Grace Nathan—whose mother was on board MH370—detailing three points which they urged the new Malaysian government, elected on May 9, to focus on in their first 100 days.
The letter calls for a “comprehensive review of all matters related to the disappearance of MH370, especially the release of all relevant documents such as the full cargo manifest.” A manifest had been released by officials shortly after the disappearance but it is unclear whether information is missing or withheld.
Furthermore, the group called for an investigation into the “possible falsification and/or elimination of records related to MH370” but did not elaborate. “We also hope, like with other recent matters, Malaysia will be more open to sharing MH370 related information with other international governments, bodies and agencies in order to allow a complete and thorough review to take place,” the letter states.
In an interview on Friday, Malaysia’s PM in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim left the door open to a new search in the future but only after a full review of the investigation was concluded, including the points highlighted by Voice370 two days earlier.
The current Ocean Infinity search area is based on satellite “pings” and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s final report on MH370, which determined the plane with 239 people aboard took a turn west and then, a short time later, turned southerly toward Australia.
This was a total deviation from their planned flight route between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing but aviation experts and investigators have yet to determine why the flight made such a drastic course change. Some believe it was a mass murder/suicide while others believed the plane ran out of fuel after the pilots were incapacitated.
Earlier this week on May 23, 60 Minutes Australia featured five experts in a panel discussion that received mixed reviews and included retired Canadian aviation investigator Larry Vance who’s just published a new book about the missing fight.
The book claims that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately diverted the plane in a pre-planned suicide/mass-murder while saying that the discovery of the two flaperons in 2015 shows that they were deployed and ready for landing, contradicting Australian officials.
Australian officials had said in a November 2016 report that the flaperon was found in the retracted position, not configured for a landing on water, otherwise known as a ditching. “The right outboard flap was most likely in the retracted position at the time it separated from the wing,” the report states.
Intriguingly, aviation expert Christine Negroni, who authored one of the first books on MH370 emtitled The Crash Detectives was left out of the forum. She called out the fact that there were no women on the panel, saying the program was the “worst sort of journalism” with scraps of information being stitched together.
In her book, Negroni says MH370 may have suffered a rapid decompression which incapacitated the pilots due to hypoxia, rendering them “incapable of making sensible decisions,” she said.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, during a routine flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing with 239 people aboard, including two Canadians.