A new report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has revealed that the two-year-long, $200 million search operation for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has almost definitely been conducted exclusively in an area in which the remains of the plane are not.

MH370 disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8th, 2014 and, while debris linked to the aircraft has been found on Mauritius, off the coast Tanzania, near Madagascar and in South Africa, the wreckage of the plane itself is still yet to be recovered.

The findings from the First Principles Review summit, which saw representatives from the government and aviation experts gather in Canberra for three days in November, found that it’s extremely unlikely that the plane is in the 120,000-square-kilometre search area, and is more likely actually a bit north of where they’ve been looking:

“Given the high confidence in the search undertaken to date, the experts agreed that the previously defined indicative underwater area is unlikely to contain the missing aircraft.

“When considered together with updated flight path modelling, the experts concluded that an unsearched area between latitudes 33°S and 36°S along the 7th arc of approximately 25,000 km², has the highest probability of containing the wreckage of the aircraft.”

This is probably a bit disappointing for the search crews, who have so far covered over 90% of the area which they now believe to actually have zero plane in it.

Despite the findings, however, search teams will continue probing the original area until the last 10,000 square kilometres is done, and then the search will be called off, according to transport minister Darren Chester:

“We are very close to completing the 120,000 square kilometre underwater search area, and we remain hopeful that we will locate the aircraft. As agreed at the Tripartite Ministers meeting in Malaysia in July we will be suspending the search unless credible evidence is available that identifies the specific location of the aircraft.”

“The search for MH370 has been the largest in aviation history and has tested the limits of technology, and the capacity of our experts and people at sea.

“Our thoughts remain with the families and loved ones of the 239 people on board.”

Source: Huffington Post.

Photo: Getty Images / Mohd Samsul Mohd Said.