The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is likely to be extended through late July or into August, the Australian reported Thursday. Previously it was announced the search would end this summer though no dates had been specified.
“We have some way to go and our best bet is that we will complete that search late July/early August, depending on unforeseen consequences,” said Martin Dolan, the chief of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
Large waves and strong winds have slowed the search that has entered its final phase exploring 13,000 square kilometers (more than 5,000 square miles) in the hope of locating the missing aircraft. When completed, the search will have covered 120,000 square kilometers (46,332 square miles).
The Australian, Chinese and Malaysian governments all have been participating in the search for the aircraft that disappeared March 8, 2014, en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. There were 239 people on board.
The search for MH370 is likely to end once the next phase is completed. The Australian government decided not to provide more funds for the search effort with the budget of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau being cut. Australia has contributed the most money, upward of $65 million, to the search effort followed by contributions from Malaysia and China.
“The technical capability is there to continue the search but the resources to do it is a matter of government,” Dolan said.
The Malaysian government said it would not push for the search to be extended any longer.
“If we have completed searching in the determined area, we will agree with Australia, which is heading the search, and the advice of experts to cease the mission,” said Malaysian Deputy Transport Minister Ab Aziz Kaprawi.
Dolan admitted earlier this week while he remains optimistic, it is possible the missing aircraft may never be found.
“At worst we will know at the end of this process that the area we have searched does not contain the aircraft,” Dolan said. “At best we will find it.”