The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could take years, a U.S. Naval Officer said Sunday, as a group of relatives of Chinese passengers from Beijing traveled to Kuala Lumpur to demand answers about the plane’s fate.
U.S. Navy Captain Mark Matthews, in charge of the U.S. Towed Pinger Locator (TPL), told journalists at Stirling Naval Base near Perth that the lack of information about where the plane went down hampers the search effort.
“Right now the search area is basically the size of the Indian Ocean, which would take an untenable amount of time to search,” he said.
“If you compare this to Air France flight 447, we had much better positional information of where that aircraft went into the water,” he said, referring to the plane that crashed in 2009 near Brazil. It took more than two years to find the wreckage from that accident.
Ten ships and as many aircraft are searching a massive area west of Perth, Australia in the Indian Ocean, trying to find any sign of the aircraft that went missing three weeks ago and is presumed to have crashed.
An Australian navy ship, the Ocean Shield – fitted Sunday with a sophisticated U.S. black box locator and an underwater drone, is expected to join the search later in the day.
Search officials have been following new leads after numerous objects were spotted floating in the ocean and a new analysis of radar and satellite data concluded that the Boeing 777 traveled faster and for a shorter distance after disappearing from civilian radar screens on March 8.
None of the objects have been confirmed as coming from MH370. Both a Chinese ship and an Australian navy vessel have picked up objects but nothing could be linked to the flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members.
The search has involved unprecedented cooperation between more than two dozen countries and 60 aircraft and ships but has also been hampered by regional rivalries and a perceived reluctance to share potentially crucial information due to security concerns.