While walking along a street one evening, so an old story goes, a police officer noticed a man crouched under a street lamp, scrutinising the ground. When the officer asked whether the man had lost something, he replied that he was searching for his house keys.

“It’s lucky you lost them under the street lamp,” the officer told him, at which point the man looked up and nodded towards a nearby hedge. “No, I lost them in the garden. But there’s just not enough light there.”

Investigators trying to locate Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have hunted in the darkness for three years without success.

Their 440-page report, already larger than those for several major accidents even while the Boeing 777 remains missing, says the reasons for its loss “cannot be established with certainty” until progress is made with finding the aircraft.

But progress need not be limited to the satellite handshakes and bathymetric analysis. The “similarities” in the flightpath extracted from the captain’s simulator remain a source of discomfort – enough to be carefully considered, at least in relation to locating the wreckage.

If the expanse of the Pacific, and the absence of conclusive data, still cast too much darkness in the area where MH370 was lost, the inquiry needs to concentrate on searching under the light – exploring in greater depth the background of the crew, if only to lay finally to rest the disquiet and suspicion that still haunts this “societally unacceptable” episode.

Source: Flight International