The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH70, the Boeing 777 that vanished on March 8 leaving behind the greatest mystery in aviation history, has been underway since October 6 in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean, and still not a trace of the missing plane or its 239 passengers and crew has turned up.
And the current effort is the second such search. An international effort to find the plane earlier this year also came up empty.
With families of the missing growing in anguish every day, and the rest of the world wondering how a jumbo jet could disappear without leaving a single scrap of physical evidence, the Australian government and the Joint Agency Coordination Center — the multinational agency coordinating the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 — posted a short video online Monday, outlining the details of the search, and explaining why the hunt for the missing aircraft is taking such an agonizingly long time.
The four-minute presentation, which can be viewed above, emphasizes that the area in which experts believe that Flight 370 came down is vast and the waters of the Indian Ocean in that region have never, until now, been explored by human beings.
“Searching for MH370 is a complicated task. The search area is a long way from land. The water is very deep and the sea floor is largely uncharted,” the JACC video explains. “The bathymetric operation in the search area has identified that the waters are extremely deep, up to six kilometers in some areas. Daylight can only penetrate a very short distance and, on the deep sea floor, there is no light to see by.”
By the “bathymetric operation,” the JACC means the extensive effort to map the ocean floor in the Flight MH370 search engine. Six kilometers equals about 3.73 miles.
So far, the search effort has covered almost 2,700 square miles of ocean floor without turning up any evidence that the Malaysia Airlines plane is anywhere in the neighborhood. That area is approximately half the size of the state of Connecticut, or more than five times bigger than the city of Los Angeles, California.
And the most startling problem, though the video does not mention it, is that the investigators are not even sure that the missing plane is actually in the search area. The satellite company whose data led to the conclusion that the plane crashed in that stretch of the Indian Ocean recently said that their own data contained “significant uncertainty.”
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is expected to last until next April.