This week, the Chinese, Australians and Malaysians, have announced they’ll be meeting in Australia to figure out where to look next. In addition, they announced that the Inmarsat data which formed the basis for most of the fruitless search efforts during the last several weeks is going to be re-examined.
In simple language, what it all comes down to is that searchers have eliminated approximately 125 square miles of ocean floor mapped by the Blue Fin and will now try to figure out where to look next. The involved governments have vowed that the search will continue, but other current events continue to push MH 370 further and further into the background and lower and lower on the list of items of interest to the media.
The families have been asked to go home and await further developments. The inevitable question…. the one no one wants to ask, much less answer . . . . . is, “Does the search get called off and, if so, when?”
The answer to this question is actually quite easy. Either the involved governments “institutionalize” the search and make it a permanent undertaking that will end only if the aircraft is found, or they prolong the search only if there is something reasonable left to do that has not been done. In other words, unless they determine that the analyses done so far were in error, it may well be time to call off the search. From this perspective, the meeting this week could be a good thing.
While the search got off to a shaky start, once it got on track, there’s nothing for which any government has to apologize. Everyone involved has given it their best. The aircraft and all on-board are gone. The oceans are bigger than man’s ability to master them.
Nothing short of physical evidence of the aircraft is going to satisfy the families. Just as they are upset that Malaysian Airlines has closed the family assistance centers, they will be even more upset when search efforts cease.
We hope that during whatever search efforts continue, they find the aircraft. But everyone has to recognize that these search efforts cannot continue forever. Sooner or later, they have to stop. After two months, absent some hard evidence, we suggest it should be sooner.
(Originally posted May 8, 2014)