On 17th January, the tripartite Ministers of Australia, Malaysia and China announced that, consistent with decisions made in their July 2016 Ministerial Tripartite meeting, as the aircraft had not been located in the agreed search area, the search for flight MH370 had been suspended.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from air traffic control screens on 8 March 2014 while over the Gulf of Thailand en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
The last search vessel has now left the 120,000 square-kilometre underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean without finding any trace of the missing aircraft.
In a joint communiqué, the three governments declare: “Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft.”
The total cost of the search is around $200m, shared between Australia, the People's Republic of China and Malaysia.
In the wake of MH370 (and AF447 five years earlier), steps are being taken to ensure that aircraft can be tracked at all times, even in remote areas of the globe. This is the goal of the Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) concept developed by the International Civil Aircraft Organisation (ICAO).
ICAO has adopted provisions for autonomous aircraft tracking during normal operations (position reports every 15 minutes, effective November 2018) and in distress circumstances (position reports every minute, effective January 2021). The latter require aircraft to carry autonomous distress tracking devices which can autonomously transmit location information at least once every minute in distress circumstances.
Qatar Airways was one of the first airlines to adopt a solution in line with GADSS recommendations.