The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet has suffered a further setback after investigators ruled out the main search area in the southern Indian Ocean as its final resting place.
Authorities have been scouring the 850 sq km area for more than two months based on pings thought to be from the plane’s black boxes.
But the operation has now finished after an unmanned submersible found no sign of the plane and a US Navy official claimed the pings were from a man-made source unrelated to the jetliner.
‘Yesterday afternoon, Bluefin-21 completed its last mission searching the remaining areas in the vicinity of the acoustic signals detected in early April by the towed pinger locator,’ a statement from the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said.‘The data collected on yesterday’s mission has been analysed. As a result, the JACC can advise that no signs of aircraft debris have been found by the autonomous underwater vehicle since it joined the search effort.
‘The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has advised that the search in the vicinity of the acoustic detections can now be considered complete and in its professional judgement, the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370.’
An expanded search of 21,600 square miles, based on satellite analysis of the plane’s most likely route, is expected to begin in August. The operation could take up to 12 months.
The plane carrying 239 people vanished on March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.