Families of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are calling for new search using robotic ships

The families of those who disappeared when Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 mysteriously disappeared nine years ago have called for a renewed search for the missing plane using robotic ships.

In a statement marking the anniversary of the disappearance, Voice370 – a group of relatives of the 239 people on board – called on the Malaysian government to allow ocean-bed exploration company Ocean Infinity to hunt for the missing wreck.

What happened to Flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8, 2014 on a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, remains one of the world’s top aviation mysteries.

“As long as we remain in the dark about what happened to MH370, we will never be able to prevent a similar tragedy,” Voice370 said Sunday. “We fervently hope that 2023 will result in a search that will mark the beginning of the end of the search for Malaysia’s missing MH370.”

“Fastest” new robot ships

The group said a US marine robotics company, Ocean Infinity, hopes to launch a new search later this summer and urged Malaysia to accept their proposals on a no-find, no-fee basis.

The company conducted a three-month search using autonomous underwater vehicles in 2018, but found no leads. However, Voice370 said the company has “made real progress” over the past year to better understand what happened in 2014.

The company also unveiled “state-of-the-art” new robotic ships last March, with the first of which should be operational early this year, which could revive the hitherto unsuccessful hunt.

“[These are] It is 78 meters long and can be operated without humans and entirely remotely,” said Ocean Infinity CEO Oliver Plunkett in a speech last March. “They are probably the most modern and advanced ships in the world.”

Last month Peter Foley, who led the initial search, also called for a renewed search for the wreckage of MH370, telling Guardian Australia that new data and equipment – like the robotic ships – are available.

MH370 disappeared about 40 minutes after a six-hour flight, and a US$135million (£112million) hunt coordinated by Malaysia, China and Australia ended in January 2017 after no sign of the plane was found.

While some debris believed to be from the aircraft has washed up along the coasts of Africa and on Indian Ocean islands, the void of information has allowed for theories – including conspiracies such as a mass hypoxia event or premeditated murder-suicide by the pilot – to multiply.

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