Missing Jet Search Reaches ‘Critical Juncture’ As It Nears Conclusion

The search for a missing jet lost in the Indian Ocean more than a month ago is nearing a conclusion, but crews searching the ocean floor say they are no closer to finding Malaysia Airlines flight 370.

Search crews have focused on a 6.3-mile circle on the ocean floor, and said they will be completed searching the area within about a week. A deep-sea autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) operated by the U.S. Navy is expected to be done shortly, but so far has found no signs of the plane.

“Provided the weather is favorable for launch and recovery of the AUV and we have a good run with the serviceability of the AUV, we should complete the search of the focused underwater area in five to seven days,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre told Reuters in an email.

It took several days for the missing jet search to focus on the remote stretch of the Indian Ocean after an initial search area that stretched several thousand miles, but now crews have been focusing heavily on the narrow stretch where they believe the plane’s black box was detected.

“It is important to focus on today and tomorrow. Narrowing of the search area today and tomorrow is at a very critical juncture,” Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a media conference in Kuala Lumpur, asking that people pray that search crews can find some trace of the plane.

The missing jet search would have little hope left if the AUV turns up nothing. The black box has passed the 30-day life expectancy of the battery, so the search moving forward would have to rely on the $4 million U.S. Bluefin-21 drone, which is diving deeper than it ever has before.

“The search will always continue,” Hishammuddin said. “It’s just a matter of approach.”

The missing jet search has already become the most exhaustive and expensive in aviation history.