Search for MH370 debris to continue on ‘low key’

By Jonathan Edward

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Efforts are under way to continue the search for debris and other physical evidence which will help investigators locate Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

Independent investigator Blaine Alan Gibson told Malay Mail although the official search had been suspended, efforts were being made by a team, including himself, to continue the search in a “low key fashion”.

“The field work will continue but unless something significant surfaces it will be carried out quietly. I am doing this on my own initiative as a private citizen looking (for debris) for the families,” he said. 

“Although the main debris found so far is of the honeycomb pattern composite material used on Boeing aircraft, personal effects are turning up as well and all these must be collected and documented.

“It would be wrong to assume the search had reached a dead end because more clues and information are in the hands of investigators than ever before.

“It is no longer a matter of groping in the dark. We have not figured out where the crash site is but at least we know the completed search area is not where we should be looking.

“We have detailed drift modelling, and a new credible search area has been identified ... information is constantly turning up but there must be the political will to follow through.” MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board disappeared after a series of course changes en route to Beijing from KL International Airport on March 8, 2014.

The multinational search for MH370 was suspended on Jan 17, after investigators spent nearly three years combing the southern Indian Ocean for the airliner.

It has been the most expensive aviation investigation to date, costing an estimated RM649 million, without turning up any evidence or clue on where the aircraft could be.

“It was discouraging to see the lack of enthusiasm shown by authorities in recovering debris which turned up on beaches in Madagascar, which ultimately took six months to be collected,” Gibson said.

“Also, suspending the search after completion of the 120,000 sq km area and ignoring the much smaller 25,000 sq km area was a premature decision.” 

He said the search at the official level would need the participation of governments involved and the political will to follow through.

“It is especially important that Malaysia, China and Australia get together to evaluate the facts and findings thus far before deciding the next move,” he said.

Gibson felt the move to suspend the search would actually increase costs rather than save money as it would take time to assemble another effort and move assets into the area.

“Cost was a factor mentioned but to stop the search and resume it at a later date without investigating the new area identified is going to incur more costs,” he said.

“It would have been more practical to comb the new location, which is only a fifth of the size of the original search area.”