Tags: Malaysia Airlines | Flight 370 | search | Feith

Former Investigator: Search Will Have to End for Missing Airplane

Image: Former Investigator: Search Will Have to End for Missing Airplane Personnel from Indonesia's National Search and Rescue check the map during a search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the Andaman sea area around the northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island on March 17.

By Wanda Carruthers   |   Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 09:46 AM

The Malaysian government will have to decide how much longer to continue the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, former National Transportation Safety Board investigator Greg Feith said.

The United States has scaled back efforts to find the missing airplane, and India has  pulled out of the search-and-rescue effort for the airliner, Feith said. So far, the rescue mission has turned up no trace of the jet.

"At some point, the Malaysians are going to have to call a halt saying, 'We've done everything. We have expended all of our assets,'" Feith told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday.

The search area covers 28 million square miles and includes a large expanse of the Indian Ocean, and the United States can only cover about 1,500 square miles a day, Feith said. The jet carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members has been missing since March 8.

Of the 25 countries participating in the search, Feith said some may not have the budget "to support the effort that much longer." He said calling off a search and not having answers for what happened to the airplane would be hard on the families of the passengers.

"That's the hardest decision. And that's going to be the hardest for families because there won't be any closure," he said.

As investigators continue to speculate about what happened to the airliner originally destined for Beijing, Feith said the wide expanse of the Indian Ocean would have been "the place to disappear." He called motives to divert the plane "calculated" and "premeditated."

Feith said the plane never ascended to 45,000 feet, as reports suggested. Maps illustrating a sharp turn after the pilot's last contact would have been more gradual during flight, he said.

Feith dismissed speculation that the airplane would have landed at an obscure site, and explained it was too large to land "on a jungle strip." He said he thought evidence of the plane would ultimately appear, most likely in the Indian Ocean.

"Eventually, traces of the airplane may be found. Based on what I know and where the track went, you're going into the deepest part of the Indian Ocean down there, the furthest from any kind of land mass," he said.

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