Pacific

After 3 years, MH370 search ends with no plane, few answers

  • FILE - In this March 22, 2014, file photo, Flight Officer Jack Chen uses binoculars at an observers window on a Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean, Australia. The Joint Agency Coordination Center in Australia said Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 that the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had officially been suspended after crews finished their fruitless sweep of the 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) search zone west of Australia. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)

    FILE - In this March 22, 2014, file photo, Flight Officer Jack Chen uses binoculars at an observers window on a Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean, Australia. The Joint Agency Coordination Center in Australia said Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 that the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had officially been suspended after crews finished their fruitless sweep of the 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) search zone west of Australia. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this March 6, 2016, file photo, well wishes are written on a wall of hope during a remembrance event for the ill fated Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Joint Agency Coordination Center in Australia said Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 that the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had officially been suspended after crews finished their fruitless sweep of the 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) search zone west of Australia. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul, File)

    FILE - In this March 6, 2016, file photo, well wishes are written on a wall of hope during a remembrance event for the ill fated Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Joint Agency Coordination Center in Australia said Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 that the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had officially been suspended after crews finished their fruitless sweep of the 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) search zone west of Australia. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this March 31, 2014 file photo, HMAS Success scans the southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia, as a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion flies over, while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. After nearly three years, the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended in futility and frustration on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, as crews completed their deep-sea search of a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean without finding a single trace of the plane. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)

    FILE - In this March 31, 2014 file photo, HMAS Success scans the southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia, as a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion flies over, while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. After nearly three years, the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended in futility and frustration on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, as crews completed their deep-sea search of a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean without finding a single trace of the plane. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)  (The Associated Press)

After nearly three years, the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended in futility and frustration Tuesday, as crews completed their deep-sea search of a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean without finding a trace of the plane.

The Joint Agency Coordination Center in Australia, which has helped lead the $160 million hunt for the Boeing 777 in remote waters west of Australia, said the search had officially been suspended after crews finished their fruitless sweep of the 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) search zone.

"Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting-edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft," the agency said in a statement. "Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended."

Officials investigating the plane's disappearance have recommended search crews head north to a new area identified in a recent analysis as a possible crash site. But the Australian government has already nixed that idea.

Last year, Australia, Malaysia and China — which have each helped fund the search — agreed that the hunt would be suspended once the search zone was exhausted unless new evidence emerges that pinpoints the plane's specific location. Since no technology currently exists that can tell investigators exactly where the plane is, that effectively means the most expensive, complex search in aviation history is over.