A year after it disappeared, not a trace of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been found. Tantalising but vestigial satellite links with the aircraft have enabled Australian Transport Safety Bureau-led searchers to reach a consensus on where it is worth looking for the Boeing 777’s remains – but that is all.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament in Canberra on 5 March: “I do reassure the families of our hope and expectation that the ongoing search will succeed, [but] I cannot promise the search will go on at this intensity forever.” This followed a statement by deputy prime minister, Warren Truss, who said: “We clearly cannot keep searching forever.”

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There are significant differences between the MH370 search and that for Air France flight 447, which went missing in the South Atlantic in 2009. AF447 was following its flightplan, and its oceanic position was known fairly accurately. Within 48h, floating wreckage had been sighted, but it still took two years to find the main wreckage. MH370, on the other hand, turned dramatically away from its planned route, and the search area is not defined by certainties.

As Flightglobal reported within a week of its disappearance from Malaysian military radar over the Andaman Sea: “If the aircraft went north it will be found one day. If it went south there’s no guarantee it will ever be found in the vastness of the southern Indian Ocean.”

Source: Flight International