Search for missing Malaysian jet may take years: U.S. official

SYDNEY Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:03am EDT

1 of 4. Family members (front) of passengers aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 gather for a sit-in protest as security personnel stand guard outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, early April 25, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Courtesy of family members/Handout via Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is likely to drag on for years, a senior U.S. defense official told Reuters on Friday, as an underwater search for any trace of the plane's wreckage off west Australia appeared to have failed.

The official, speaking under condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the search effort, said two weeks of scouring the Indian Ocean floor with a U.S. Navy submersible drone had turned up no wreckage.

He said the search for the jetliner, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, would now enter a much harder phase of scouring broader areas of the ocean near where the plane is believed to have crashed.

"We went all in on this small area and didn't find anything. Now you've got to go back to the big area," the official said. "And now you're talking years."

On Friday, the undersea drone Bluefin-21 is expected to finish what may be the last of its 16-hour trips to depths of more than 4.5km (2.8 miles) searching a 10 square km (6.2 square

mile) stretch of seabed about 2,000 miles northwest of Perth.

Authorities had identified the area as their strongest lead in determining the plane's final resting place after detecting what they suspected was a signal, or "ping", from the plane's black box recorder on April 4.

But the U.S. official said Malaysia would have to decide how to proceed with the search, including whether to bring in more underwater drones, even with the understanding that the search could continue for years without a refined search area.

(Reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Paul Tait)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (3)
beerpatzer wrote:
Why does it have to be found anyways??? Can’t you people just accept that some things in this world will remain mysteries forever? Or is it your hubris, propelled by science and technology, that prompt you to assume that everything in this world is a subject to one clear answer?

Apr 24, 2014 12:58am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Johnothan wrote:
Of course it will take years – because they are not looking near Diego Garcia.

(after comms were deliberately switched off) The last known location of MH370 to civilian radar was in the direction of Beijing (just NE of KL) and the last know location to military radar was in the direction of the Indian Ocean. When you simply go by those 2 facts and remove any speculation – you can connect those two points of location and draw a line that leads just SE of Diego Garcia. Diego Garcia, if the event was terrorist activity, would probably have been considered a strategic target. Especially, if you consider all the nuclear armed bombers parked there..

Apr 25, 2014 1:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
paintcan wrote:
Nothing about this story ever seems to make much sense. Flight paths seemed to change without any supporting information. At first no one had any information except an engine “ping”. A few days later the Malaysian airforce claimed the plane “veered west” and a few days after that Reuters was showing diagrams claiming the plane had flown due west to the Bay of Bengal and could have flown either north or south along a well used flight corridor. Then the story morphed again into a 18o degree turn almost at the same place the plane lost its transponder signal and was presumed lost and flew south into the Indian Ocean. On CNN on Sunday and Monday there was a new flight path that claimed the plane had turned 180 degrees, recrossed Malaysia and then turned west to fly toward the Bay of Bengal and then south into the Indian Ocean.

All of the information was gleaned from the engine pings or from someone’s radar that was never very well specified.

I am going under the assumption that no one really knows what happened to the plane and they throw out information to make themselves look less helpless or incompetent. There are probably dozens of different agencies and “experts” working at this mystery and they may all be confusing each other?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the plane actually crashed into the Himalayas and the first “veered west” hunch was the correct one but what the heck, Diego Garcia may win? That’s the Russian internet rumor anyway. If it does, what an expensive act of obfuscation.

If the passengers are all Ghosts now, they would be confused. The plane can escort the “Flying Dutchman” till doomsday.

Apr 25, 2014 8:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.