Malaysian authorities said Monday they have failed to determine the cause of the 2014 disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, though they did rule out several possibilities.
Announcing the release of a widely anticipated safety investigation report, investigators acknowledged a lack of any clear evidence on the plane's ultimate fate, but added it would be presumptuous to suggest this was the end of the matter, given the wreckage had not yet been located.
The Malaysian Airlines flight disappeared in 2014 carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, in what has become one of the world's biggest aviation mysteries.
Speaking at a press conference near the capital Kuala Lumpur, lead investigator Kok Soo Chon said MH370 turned back towards Malaysia under manual control, but it could not be determined whether the plane was being flown by the pilot or if there had been any unlawful interference.
Chon went on to rule out other factors that had been questioned in the demise of the flight, including the pilot's mental state, aircraft malfunction, or remote control of operation systems.
When pressed about what other information the team hoped to be able to find in the future, he said they needed to be able to provide some closure to the incident -- that gripped the world's attention for months in 2014 and about which families are still hoping for news -- and therefore published the report with the evidence on hand.
Chon said that authorities would again investigate should the plane be found into the future.
An initial search for the plane, carried out by Malaysia, China, and Australia, was called off in January 2017 after failing to find any trace of the plane within a 710,000-plus square kilometer area of the Indian Ocean. A private company reached an agreement with the Malaysian government to extend the search, but that too was stopped in May.
"The disappearance of MH370 and the search effort are unprecedented in commercial aviation history," the Malaysian report said Monday.
"Improvements must be undertaken to ensure that this type of event is identified as soon as possible, and mechanisms are in place to track an aircraft that is not following its filed flight plan for any reason."
It added that the "international aviation community needs to provide assurance to the traveling public that the location of current-generation commercial aircraft is always known" and to do otherwise would be "unacceptable."
With the technology in place at the time of MH370's fateful flight however, "the team is unable to determine the real cause for (its) disappearance."