The head of a union representing 4,500 Australian pilots urged officials this week to continue searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. David Booth, the president of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, told the Australian Monday that evidence suggesting the plane was being piloted until it crashed into the Indian Ocean justifies extending the scan for the Boeing 777.
"The idea that they are not going to search for the airplane to finality is a serious precedent in all aviation," Booth said. "This is critical to me as an aviator … the airplane’s missing, we need to find the airplane."
MH370 vanished in March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Representatives from Australia, which is leading the 120,000-square-kilometer sweep for the plane, met with ministers from Malaysia and China last month and issued a statement confirming their plans to suspend the search without new evidence, Reuters reported. The decision immediately inspired backlash from the victims' families, even though Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters he wasn't "giving up" on looking for debris from the plane.
Booth's newly announced opinion that the hunt should continue "will add pressure on the government to reconsider [its] decision," the Australian wrote.
Discussions about ending the search have coincided with a New York Magazine report that MH370's pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, flew a similar route on his flight simulator just before the incident. In a statement, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau debunked the rumors, writing that "the simulator information shows only the possibility of planning" and not "what happened."
Booth came out after Canadian aviation expert Larry Vance told Australia's "60 Minutes" he thought the condition of the wing flaperon found last year indicated that "somebody was flying the plane at the end of its flight." This assertion is difficult for the Australian government to swallow because it could mean investigators haven't been looking in the right places for evidence of the crash, according to the Australian.