Final Search for Malaysia's MH370



Image: Commons

The unsolved mystery of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 could finally come to an end this year. The doomed airliner carrying 239 souls on board, remains to this day one of the most disconcerting incidents in aviation history. On March 8, 2014 - and barely two hours after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route to Beijing, China - the Boeing 777 was tracked by military radar over the South China Sea as it made an unannounced and abrupt course deviation towards an unknown destination.

It is now believed that pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately changed the flight plan in mid-air before plunging the airplane into the southern Indian Ocean approximately 1933 kilometers west of Perth, Australia. After almost a decade of exhaustive search for the wreckage, aviation authorities and recovery crews from various nations have come away empty-handed and unable to bring much-needed closure to the victim's families.

Although the official search ended in 2017 - and several independent efforts were eventually shutdown due to lack of resources - just a few days ago, we learned that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is resuming its search for Flight 370. According to Sky News sources, British aerospace engineer Richard Godfrey managed to convince the newly-appointed ATBS chief, Angus Mitchell, of the possibility of utilizing machine learning algorithms to sift through the archived data collected by various sensors in order to pinpoint the resting place of the plane.

This new data review is prompted by a paper published by Mr. Godfrey, which cites the usefulness of Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) - a protocol used among ham radio operators - as a powerful tracking tool. In theory, 2014 WSPR signals present in the area of interest could serve as a beacon to determine the precise location the airplane went down. At the time of the "accident," 518 unique transmission paths were recorded by radio receivers showing the aircraft flying in circles for approximately 22 minutes before vanishing. If proven accurate, this new method could spark a whole new international effort to find MH370's watery grave.