And once again the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has to recalibrate back to square one or thereabouts. Australia officials in charge of the search effort stated this week that the there was no sign of wreckage from the aircraft on the ocean floor where the search has been concentrated for the last month.
Reuters reported (via Yahoo News) May 29 that the agency released a statement noting: "The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has advised that the search in the vicinity of the acoustic detections can now be considered complete and, in its professional judgment, the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370."
But what about those "pings" that led the international search to an area about 1,500 miles off the western coast of Australia?
"We don't know what those pings were," ATSB chief Martin Dolan told Reuters over the phone. "We are still analyzing those signals to understand them better."
Just last week, officials announced that two of the "pings" thought to be transmissions from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 black boxes were actually not transponder pings but some other similar-sounding noise. Now it is known that none of the signals were from the missing plane's black boxes.
The search location was reached by studying satellite data from Inmarsat which directed the search efforts to the southern Indian Ocean. Four "pings" led the investigation west of Australia and resources were then concentrated on that area in the hope that the Boeing 777 that has been missing since March 8 would be found.
Unfortunately, it was not.
"We concentrated the search in that area because the pings were the best information available at the time," Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Warren Truss told the Australian parliament.
"We are still very confident that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern (Indian) Ocean..." he added.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went initially went missing over the South China Sea. However, the Malaysia military soon discovered that the jet had been redirected and was picked up by its radar off the west coast of Malaysia a few hours after it dropped off radar on its way to Beijing, China. Satellite data later showed the missing plane headed in a southerly direction. (Most of that data was made public in a 45-page document released by the Malaysian government earlier in the week.) Extrapolations of flight path data and fuel consumption estimates helped narrow the search.
At present, only one ship, a Chinese mapping vessel, is continuing the search, which had been scaled back to just underwater mapping.