The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, missing for almost 13 months, has now covered more than half of the massive, 23,166 square-mile search area in the remote Indian Ocean — an area the size of Massachusetts in some of the roughest and least explored waters of the world.
But is the missing plane even there? Last year, investigators relied on satellite data from the British firm Inmarsat to determine that the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flew seven hours and thousands of miles off of its Kuala Lumpur to Beijing route, ending up more than 1,000 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia.
At that point, investigators maintain, the plane ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean.
But other than the satellite data, which even Inmarsat itself has said contains "significant uncertainty," what evidence is there that Flight MH370 is actually where the investigators say it is?
That's what a military aviation technology expert, Andre Milne, wants to know — and Milne has penned a sharply-worded letter to the Australian government demanding evidence that the Indian Ocean crash theory is not a "criminal fabrication."
"Are all (the search efforts) collectively unable to locate one single piece of aircraft wreckage and or any physical evidence that is corroborative in any way to your artificial incursion theory?" Milne asks in the letter.
Despite searching a massive area, not one trace of the plane has turned up. Nor has any debris from the plane washed up on a beach or been spotted floating in the water anywhere for thousands of miles around.
But Milne went beyond a mere demand for evidence. According to his letter, he believes that the Australian and Malaysian governments' insistence that the Malaysia Airlines plane crashed into the Indian Ocean is nothing but a sham — a cover-up if something more sinister.
"My investigative action suggests that a now documented pattern of corruption by unknown officials exists that is resulting in the premeditated fabrication of artificial claims and artificial evidence is being facilitated in an effort to create a cover-up and or a diversion from the factual truth related to MH370," Milne charges in the letter.
But what could the authorities be covering up?
That, Milne doesn't say — at least not in any specific terms, raising only the possibility that "a criminal act occurred during the flight and unfolded in such a way as to have negative impact upon the parties investigating."
Milne also invokes the specter of a crisis on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that could affect national security in some way, and therefore must be covered up by the governments in charge of the search.
[Image: Rufus Cox/Getty Images]