October 22, 2016

Just SIX months to find MH370: Deadline set for search teams to discover missing plane

THE WORLD may never know what happened to ill-fated Malaysia Aiirlines flight MH370 as a search for the aircraft will end in six months.

An underwater search of the southern Indian Ocean is yet to locate the missing Boeing 777 which went missing on March 8 2014.

The plane which took off with 239 people and crew onboard was en-route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when air traffic control staff lost contact with it.

The search has been the largest and most expensive in aviation history with Malaysia alone spending more than £50million – but it has never been found.

And time is running out with the search expected to conclude in June 2016, the Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement.

This year, experts have said they believe investigators are ‘close to finding’ the Boeing 777 airliner which is likely to have crashed into the ocean.

More than 30,000 square miles of the sea floor have already been covered in the multi-national operation, to no avail.

There was hope of a discovery in recent months when some debris washed ashore on Réunion Island, a French territory. Despite widespread doubt it was confirmed to be part of the plane’s wing.

There have been various reports of debris sightings, but only the Réunion Island discovery has been confirmed as originating from the missing plane.

This breakthrough happened after one of three numbers found on the flaperon was formally identified by a technician from Airbus Defence and Space (ADS-SAU).

The Australian-led search has been combing a 120,000sq km area of seabed about 2,000km off the coast of Perth, using underwater drones and sonar equipment deployed from specialist ships.

Search areas have changed many times since the plane disappeared, due to confusion over its last movements.

But in December 2015, Australian officials said they had refined the search area and were confident they were looking in the right area for the plane.

The investigation which is currently being affected by bad weather is expected to continue through the Christmas period, with searchers suggesting the onset of summer is expected to provide better conditions, next year.

n the event the aircraft is found and accessible, Australia, Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China have agreed to plans for recovery activities, including securing all the evidence necessary for the accident investigation,” the statement said.

Families of passengers who went missing have been fiercely critical of the handling of the investigation since it began. They have complained that officials have failed to adequately inform them of the status of the search.

Twelve crew members on the flight were all Malaysian, led by pilots Captain Zaharie Ahmed Shah, 53, and 27-year-old co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.

Police have searched their homes and a flight simulator has been taken from the captain’s home and reassembled for examination.

Onboard the flight were 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians, according to the manifest. Seven were children.

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