IN MARCH, Martin Dolan, the Australian coordinating the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which disappeared from the skies without trace two years earlier, said that he expected the plane to be found “by July”. Today Fugro, the firm leading that hunt, said that it now believes it may have been searching in the wrong place all along.

Contact with MH370 was lost around an hour into a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The Boeing 777 was carrying 239 passengers and crew. Its last recorded position was close to Phuket, a Thai island. The scale of the task facing the recovery team was always daunting. The search area had been narrowed down to some 120,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean (see map), where depths reach three miles and the pressure is a mind-boggling 6,680 psi. Moreover, the topography of that piece of ocean floor had barely been charted.

And yet, through a process of...Continue reading