The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean may come to an end by January/February 2017, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said Wednesday. Authorities announced in July 2016 that the search for the plane will be suspended if no credible new evidence is found in the current search area.
The agency leading the search for the missing flight said in its weekly operational update that poor weather conditions over the Southern hemisphere winter was causing delay in the completion of the search. Search vessels have been scouring an area of 46, 332 square miles since March 2014. So far, more than 42, 470 square miles of the seafloor have been searched.
This week, no vessels will be in the search area, ATSB said in its update. Fugro Equator departed the zone Saturday to commence re-mobilization of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) for its deployment in the search. The Dong Hai Jiu 101 is berthed at Fremantle for resupply and remobilizing of the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) for its deployment in the search.
Authorities once again stressed that the suspension of the search does not mean the termination of efforts to find the missing Boeing 777-200.
"Should credible new information emerge that can be used to identify the specific location of the aircraft, consideration will be given to determining next steps," ATSB said.
Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A multimillion-dollar search for the plane has so far yielded no concrete clues as to the plane's whereabouts. However, over the last few months, several debris pieces have been found in areas in coordination with drift modeling. Some of this debris has been confirmed to be from a Boeing 777 jet.
Meanwhile, several conspiracy theories have also emerged, with the most recent stating that the Flight MH370 may have been wrecked when Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah left the cockpit for the restroom. According to Christine Negroni, an aviation-focused reporter and author of the recently published book, "The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World's Most Mysterious Air Disasters," the cockpit depressurized when Shah left.