A private hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will end roughly four years after the plane’s disappearance. The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board in March 2014. The disappearance of the plane sparked one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.
U.S. search firm Ocean Infinity was leading the hunt for the missing aircraft. The ship conducting the hunt, Seabed Constructor, was a Norwegian research vessel carrying 65 crew. The search firm scanned the seabed with some of the world’s most high-tech search equipment, including eight autonomous drones equipped with sonars and cameras able to operate at depths up to 20,000 feet.
An Australian-led hunt of a 46,000-square mile sea search zone, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January last year. That search cost about $159 million. No sign of the plane has been found in the ocean. Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores.
The previous Malaysian government struck a deal with Ocean Infinity to restart the search in January. According to the terms of the contract, the Texas-based exploration firm would only be paid if the Boeing 777 or its black boxes were found. The firm stood to make up to $70 million if successful.
The new hunt was in an area of about 25,000 square kilometres in the southern Indian Ocean, north of the previous search zone. Ocean Infinity said in a statement, “Part of our motivation for renewing the search was to try to provide some answers to those affected. It is therefore with a heavy heart that we end our current search without having achieved that aim.” The statement continued, “We sincerely hope that we will be able to again offer our services in the search for MH370 in future.”
The search was officially set to end in late April but was extended. Malaysia’s transport minister, Anthony Loke, said a full report into MH370′s disappearance would be published in the near future. Malaysian investigators said in 2015 they had found nothing suspicious in the financial, medical or personal histories of the pilots or crew.