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Pilot: Why Flight 370 may never be found

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Editor’s note: Robert Goyer is the editor-in-chief of Flying magazine and a pilot certified to fly commercial jets. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) — Dealing yet another blow to an investigation desperate for clues, investigators have determined that debris spotted by aircraft in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was not part of the lost airliner. Without a break in the case that would lead investigators quickly in the direction of the Boeing 777-200 that disappeared March 8, it is likely that we will never find the wreckage, even if debris does turn up in the coming weeks, months or years.
To get a sense of the odds at play here, let’s put the current state of the investigation into perspective.
Searchers are focusing on an area of the southern Indian Ocean about the size of New Mexico, and this search locale is only a best guess — one based on clever satellite science but also on some big assumptions about what altitude the 777 was flying at, how fast it was going and what direction it was headed, as winds are a critical part of the guesswork.

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