The underwater search in the southern Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is expected to conclude in June 2016, the Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement Wednesday. The search has been the largest and most expensive aviation investigation in history; more than 30,000 square miles of the sea floor have already been covered.
Flight MH370 went missing March 8, 2014, after departing from to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, en route to Beijing. Despite a massive, multinational search for the plane's whereabouts, few traces have turned up. This year, some debris was found washed ashore on Réunion Island, a French territory, which 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.
— George Hatcher Sr. (@GeorgeHatcher) December 23, 2015
In recent months, aviation experts have said they believe investigators might at last be close to discovering the whereabouts of the airliner. The 239 passengers and crew are presumed dead, as the Boeing 777 is likely to have crashed into the ocean. The search for the missing aircraft has cost Malaysia an estimated $75 million.
Recent weather has affected the search for the plane, the Australian committee coordinating the search said. However, the investigation is expected to continue through the holidays. The committee said the onset of summer is expected to usher in more favorable conditions.
“In 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.