Malaysian authorities have officially ended their investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Unfortunately, the four-year search for the missing plane and the 239 souls that vanished along with it has failed to uncover the cause of the aircraft’s disappearance, who might have been responsible for the event, or even the final resting place of the doomed airliner.
On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was en route from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia to China’s Beijing Capital International Airport when it dropped off of civilian radar over the South China Sea, and changed course to backtrack westward over the Malay Peninsula. Military radar stations tracked the flight for another hour before losing contact with the plane off of the west coast of Malaysia.
The ensuing four-year search for the missing aircraft was the most expensive in aviation history, estimated to have cost between US$135–160 million, with only a few pieces of debris recovered, found washed up on beaches around the Indian Ocean. The official search was concluded on January 17, 2017, although a separate search that was being conducted by a private company was called off in May 2018.
Speaking at a press conference near Malaysia’s capital of Kuala Lumpur, lead investigator Kok Soo Chon said that the Boeing-777 had changed course under manual control, but they could not determine if the pilot had done so, or if another party on board had taken control of the plane, or if remote control had been involved.
Their investigation ruled out potential factors such as the pilot’s mental state, a malfunction that might have been suffered by the aircraft, and a potential remote-control hijacking of the plane. The final report prepared by the Safety Investigation Team for MH370 concluded that they were "unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance of MH370," meaning one of aviation history’s biggest mysteries remains unsolved.
The report also made recommendations to improve the response of air traffic controllers to situations where contact is lost with an aircraft, as the investigation team found that Kuala Lumpur ATC did not follow proper operating procedures during the incident. "In this technological epoch, the international aviation community needs to provide assurance to the traveling public that the location of current-generation commercial aircraft is always known," the report warns. "It is unacceptable to do otherwise." During the press conference, Chief Investigator Chon said that the case would be reopened if new evidence regarding the disappearance of Flight MH370 came to light.
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