Skip to main content

Flight 370: Underwater drones find nothing after scouring half of search area

By Greg Botelho and Ed Payne, CNN
updated 11:15 PM EDT, Sat April 19, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Underwater drone finishes 7th mission, still no trace of missing plane
  • NEW: Agency: Up to 11 aircraft, 12 ships to participate in Sunday's search
  • Flight 370 went missing 44 days ago; the search area has "narrowed," official says
  • "With every passing day, the search has become more and more difficult," he adds

(CNN) -- The underwater drone scanning for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 finished its seventh mission Sunday, having covered about half its intended territory without finding any sign of the missing plane.

This has been the case for 44 days now, which seems like an eternity for the relatives of the 239 passengers and crew on board still hoping for a miracle or, at least, closure.

The Bluefin-21 drone started its eighth mission soon after the previous one ended Sunday morning, surveying the bottom of the southern Indian Ocean for traces of the Boeing 777.

These efforts may be a main focus of the search, but they aren't the only part.

Close quarters and nowhere to go
How hard is it to find a black box?
The challenges of salvaging MH370 debris
Lack of progress angers Chinese families

Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre announced Sunday morning that up to 11 military aircraft and 12 ships will participate in the day's search. They'll be looking in two zones that, together, encompass about 18,700 square miles (48,500 square kilometers).

A day earlier, acting Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that "experts have narrowed down the search area."

But are they actually closer to finding anything? Hishammuddin conceded, "it's difficult to say," adding the search "is at a critical juncture."

"I appeal to everybody around the world," he said, "to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on over the next couple of days."

The failure to find clues to the plane's disappearance does not mean that the operation will stop, only that other approaches -- such as a wider scope or the use of other assets -- may be considered, Hishammuddin told reporters. "The search will always continue."

Still, he said, "With every passing day, the search has become more and more difficult."

Mother Nature isn't making this task much easier.

Tropical Cyclone Jack is circulating northwest of the search area. And while it won't hit directly, this system should increase winds and rains on Sunday into Monday.

Passengers' relatives list questions

It was early on March 8 when Flight 370 set off from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, destined for Beijing.

On June 26, the Joint Agency Coordination Center released a map showing the new search area for flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. On June 26, the Joint Agency Coordination Center released a map showing the new search area for flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Searches for Titanic and MH370 similar
MH370 partner: They're still alive
Clues from possible debris scenarios

The plane never made it.

What happened has been a confounding mystery, with passengers family members' frustrations compounded by a scarcity of details from authorities.

New ones that have come out six weeks later may help round out the picture but don't answer the main question: Why did the plane go off course, and where is it now?

These recent developments include a senior Malaysian aviation source's assertion that the jetliner deviated from its flight path while inside Vietnamese airspace.

It turned left, then climbed to 39,000 feet -- below its peak safe limit of 43,100 feet -- and maintained that altitude for about 20 minutes over the Malay Peninsula before beginning to descend, the source said.

Malaysia Airlines has declined to answer CNN questions on various matters -- including the fact that, according to the source, the missing jet was equipped with four emergency locator transmitters. When triggered by a crash, ELTs are designed to transmit their location to a satellite.

Relatives of people aboard the jetliner have drawn up 26 questions that they want addressed by Malaysian officials, who are to meet with them next week in Beijing. Most of the Flight 370 passengers and crew were Chinese.

Among them: What's in the flight's log book? Can they review the jet's maintenance records? Can they listen to recordings of the Boeing 777 pilot's conversations with air traffic controllers just before contact was lost?

Hishammuddin has defended his government's handling of the operation and accused members of the media of focusing on the Chinese families. He said relatives of passengers and crew from other nations represented have not had problems.

"The most difficult part of any investigation of this nature is having to deal with the families," he said.

CNN's Aaron Cooper, Tom Watkins, Todd Borek, Pamela Boykoff, Mitra Mobasherat, Ivan Watson, Brian Todd, Elizabeth Joseph and Erin Burnett contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:11 PM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
The search for MH370 is moving to an area farther south in the Indian Ocean, said the Australian Deputy Prime Minister.
updated 8:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
Erin Burnett speaks to Miles O'Brien about the latest in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Wed June 18, 2014
Ten experts say that the search for MH370 should move hundreds of miles away from the previous search area.
updated 9:22 AM EDT, Tue June 17, 2014
His wife never came home from her flight on MH370, and now K.S. Narendran is left to imagine the worst of possible truths without knowing.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
Families are desperate for results as the search for MH370 reaches a grim milestone. Anna Coren reports from Beijing.
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
Relatives of passengers are launching an effort to raise $5 million for investigations and a "whistle blower" reward.
updated 3:31 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
Making sure another plane is never "lost" again is the immediate priority for the airline industry.
updated 11:36 AM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
This handout photo taken on April 7, 2014 and released on April 9, 2014 by Australian Defence shows Maritime Warfare Officer, Sub Lieutenant Ryan Penrose watching HMAS Success as HMAS Perth approaches for a replenishment at sea while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. Two fresh signals have been picked up Australian ship Ocean Shield in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, raising hopes that wreckage will be found within days even as black box batteries start to expire.
Was the sound of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 striking the water captured by ocean devices used to listen for signs of nuclear blasts?
updated 6:29 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
What was believed to be the best hope of finding the missing plane is now being called a false hope. Rene Marsh explains.
updated 5:05 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
Involved parties, including the manufacturer Boeing, are bracing for a long public relations siege.
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
Official: The four acoustic pings at the center of the search for Flight 370 are no longer believed to have come from the plane's black boxes.
updated 10:21 AM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
There is one fundamental question which continues to swirl: Has Inmarsat got its numbers right?
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Data from communications between satellites and missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 was released
updated 3:42 AM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Family members of the people aboard missing plane want independent investigators to review the newly released satellite data.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest explains what kind of information should be contained in the Inmarsat data from Flight MH370.
updated 8:46 PM EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane will effectively be put on hold this week, and may not resume until August at the earliest.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Mon May 19, 2014
Movie-makers in Cannes have announced they're making a thriller based on the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370.
updated 3:25 PM EDT, Tue May 6, 2014
The search for the missing Boeing 777 has gone on for eight weeks now. CNN's David Molko looks back at this difficult, emotional assignment.
ADVERTISEMENT