Tomorrow marks the day when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished without a trace five years ago in the southern Indian Ocean and the most pertinent questions in the world’s greatest aviation mystery remain unanswered - where is it and what happened?
The disappearance of the Boeing 777 passenger jetliner, which vanished from the radar screen while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, continues to baffle aviation experts, family members, friends and people from all over the world.
The last search operations to locate the aircraft ended May last year when a United States-based exploration company Ocean Infinity failed to locate the ill-fated aircraft after searching over 112,000 km square of the ocean floor in more than three months of operation.
To date, only three wing fragments, known as flaperon, have been confirmed to be that from MH370.
Investigators found the numbers on the part matched the plane’s serial number, and identification numbers belonging to parts were uniquely made for Malaysia Airlines.
The right wing flaperon was found on a beach in Saint Denis on Reunion Island in July 2015, and the left outboard flap trailing edge was found in Mauritius in May 2016, while the right outboard flap was found on an island in Tanzania in June 2016.
Other than that, it was reported that about 30 pieces of debris have been found by the public on the African coast and islands in the Indian Ocean, and most of them have been handed over to the authorities, with some confirmed as ‘almost certainly’ from the ill-fated plane.
Investigators found that some pieces have stencilled number and letters of the same font and colour used by Malaysia Airlines, as well as some parts with decorative pattern matched that of Malaysia Airlines and were not used by any other airline.
“Relaunching the investigation is good in a way, so that we can ascertain in a more concrete fashion the origin of the 30 or so pieces of wreckage, and we can plot in an orderly manner the locations where these pieces were found,” said a local aviation expert Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian.
“Plotting the 30 or more pieces of wreckage would somehow unearth the pattern of flow of these pieces in the ocean, and coalescing this with certain mathematical algorithms, we perhaps can pinpoint the crash site,” the Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) test pilot told Bernama recently.
In July last year, the MH370 Safety Investigation Team, in its 449-page report, concluded they were unable to determine the real cause of the disappearance of the ill-fated flight, but did not rule out the possibility that ‘unlawful interference’ by a third party had caused the incident.
Former Royal Malaysian Air Force investigating officer Abdul Rahmat Omar Tun Mohd Haniff said: “Our only hope is to find the two Black Boxes: the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) to hopefully point out who and maybe why or how if there is any indication at all; and with the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) we may be able to learn how,” he said.
The former pilot pointed out that finding the two units alone seem like a miracle, let alone extracting the data after five years being submerged six kilometres beneath the surface of the ocean.
On Sunday, when met at the fifth Annual MH370 Remembrance event, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the Pakatan Harapan government was willing to listen to proposals from any exploration or search companies with credible leads and having the technology to restart the search.
Commenting further, former MAS chief pilot Nik Ahmad Huzlan Nik Hussain said the new search should only begin with a new approach as it can be costly.
Nik Ahmad Huzlan drove home the point that relaunching the search would be a wasted effort if the investigators team did not entertain or reject certain possibilities and scenario of the plane's last moments prior to exhaustion of fuel.
Mohd Harridon hoped the MH370 situation would be handled continuously where numerous quarters would lend a hand in trying to ease the emotional strain the next of kin have gone through.
“The situation is still shrouded with mystery. Perhaps in the near future new information or methodology would emerge to mitigate the scenario,” he said.
“'Good Night, Malaysian Three Seven Zero' was the last radio message sent from the MH370 cockpit and it will continue to haunt us, and the disappearance of MH370 will be the greatest aviation mystery in the world until new leads or evidence are discovered,” he said.