In the Australian government’s final report on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which baffled the world after vanishing without a trace in 2014, it conceded that we will likely never know what caused 239 people to be lost to the sea.
The document, which was published Tuesday by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, was an exhaustive report compiled since January, when the government stopped its search efforts.
Australia had led China and Malaysia in the efforts to find the missing plane, but even with the combined efforts of three nations, $160 million, and more than 1,000 days of searching, answers failed to surface.
In the report, the investigators said they had hit a roadblock when it came to evidence:
The reasons for the loss of MH370 cannot be established with certainty until the aircraft is found. It is almost inconceivable and certainly societally unacceptable in the modern aviation era with 10 million passengers boarding commercial aircraft every day, for a large commercial aircraft to be missing and for the world not to know with certainty what became of the aircraft and those on board.
The plane, a Boeing 777, left Kuala Lumpur in March 2014 but never arrived at its destination in Beijing. The largest search of its kind in aviation history followed: countless days of scanning several million square kilometers in the southern Indian Ocean from air and sea, and even underwater. The only evidence that surfaced arrived when debris from the flight washed up on an island off the shore of East Africa 3,000 miles from where it was expected to have disappeared. But even then, investigators were stymied in their search for the plane itself. Much of the world mourned but was also transfixed. Theories abounded.
On a more optimistic note, the report also said that the search for Air France Flight AF447, which was recovered, and the search for MH370 taught the international aviation community about dealing with aircraft that go missing over oceans. “Requirements and systems for tracking aircraft have been enhanced and will continue to be enhanced,” it says. “Steps are being taken to advance other aircraft systems including emergency locator transponders and flight recorder locator beacons.”
Malaysia is continuing its investigation into the circumstances of disappearance, according to the report.