In two separate press conferences late yesterday, the Australian Defence Minister and the CEO of Malaysia Airlines reiterated that flight MH370 is lost with no survivors, mirroring the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razik's announcement not 24 hours earlier. But both added one troubling addition: They have come to this conclusion because there's no evidence to disprove it.
During yesterday's press conference, Prime Minister Najib Razak revealed what had led to this newest and presumably final conclusion:
This evening I was briefed by representatives from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). They informed me that Inmarsat, the UK company that provided the satellite data which indicated the northern and southern corridors, has been performing further calculations on the data. Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370′s flight path.
Ultimately, Inmarsat uncovered "a much more detailed Doppler effect model for the northern and southern paths." By comparing these more precise models of the presumed MH370 path with already established routes, Inmarsat was able to claim an "extraordinary matching" between the two. Chris McLaughlin, Inmarsat's senior vice president of external affairs, explained to The Telegraph:
We worked out where the last ping was, and we knew that the plane must have run out of fuel before the next automated ping, but we didn't know what speed the aircraft was flying at — we assumed about 450 knots.
It's not that this evidence is definitive, though — it's just the only evidence at hand. According to the Malaysian Airlines Chief:
By the evidence given to us and rational deduction we could only arrive at the conclusion that we had lost the plane and, by extension, the people on the plane.
Likewise, the Australian Defence Minister gave a nearly identical statement to the press, saying that he is "confident [in Malaysia's assessment] because that's the best we've got at this point in time." In other words, this has to be it because this is all there is.
While frustrating, it's certainly understandable that almost three weeks in, the Malaysian government has more or less run out of options. Officials did confirm that, though they have yet to find any definitive wreckage of the plane, they do plan to keep looking. But considering the tempestuous nature of the Indian Ocean, the prospect doesn't seem hopeful.
This conclusion offers an unsettlingly inconclusive end to a truly perplexing and mysterious ordeal. But in the absence of new data or wreckage, it could very well be the best we'll ever get.