Frequently asked questions
This page reflects the most common questions we have been asked through the media and our info mailbox. It will be updated as required.
Q: What does Project370 think happened on board the aircraft?
A: The short anser is, nobody knows. That is why it is vital to find the aircraft so that a factual, evidence based investigation can tell us what happened and steps can be taken to prevent it ever happening again. In this regard, this media release may be useful: MR004
Q: How was the initial search location proposed by Project370 derived?
A: In any investigation, physical proof forms the most reliable evidence. In this case, the only physical proof related to the accident is in the form of recovered debris that drifted ashore in the western Indian Ocean.
There are several hundred oceanic drift boys throughout the world's oceans at any one moment. Through a process of retrieving and plotting the historical GPS co-ordinates reported during the journeys in the Indian Ocean of more than 122 000 bouys from several different years prior to, during and after the accident, it was discovered that debris passing through the Mascarene Island region and then washing up on the western shores of the Indian Ocean had a fairly constant period of drift and could only have entered the sea in a relatively small location.
Q: Could this debris not have originated in the area already searched?
A: No. After checking historical drift bouy data from the zone searched in 2015, 2016 and January 2017, it was discovered that any items drifitng in the already searched area would have washed ashore in Western Australia or Tasmania.
The lack of debris in these two areas would mitigate against the already searched location as being the area in which the aircraft entered the Indian Ocean.
Analysis of similar data sets (although, on the published results not as many data sets as examined by Project370) appear to be confirming that the recovered debris originated well north of the area of the Indian Ocean covered by official searches. These developments have provided a higher level of confidence that our initial target area forms the best place to start searching.
Q: Who has control over the funds donated?
A: Project370 founding charter sets out its charitable structure. Its company paperwork is governed by the laws of Washington, DC, USA. It has applied for section 501 (c) registration with the IRS of the USA for tax-exempt status. As a formal entity it has to follow strict federal laws in regard to donations and auditing which provide for rigid oversight.
The company directors will execute decisions, which, by law, have to be in the best interests of the company and which adhere to the the founding charter to disburse funds when appropriate and required.
Q: So, who and how can Project370 pay from donations?
A: The founding charter of Project370 states clearly that only legal fees for setting up the firm (or as may be needed to defend the firm), the sidescan survey cost, ROV contractors and/or ICAO may be paid from funds donated to the company. To affect any transfer, all directors need to approve such a transfer and it must be done according to generally accepted accounting practices with a full audit trail. All financial records will be placed on this website on a regular basis.
Q: Will any volunteers gain benefit from donations?
A: No. All volunteers are just that. Unpaid volunteers. There is no lawful way in which any volunteer may be paid by Project370 limited.
Q: Are any of the volunteers relatives of those aboard the aircraft?
A: Currently, no. Project370 has reached out to family members to assist in the project but, as yet, no relatives are officially part of the project team or management. Any relative, however, is welcome to get in touch.
Q: Why are the project volunteers doing this?
A: For two reasons: First, to help bring closure to our fellow human beings affected by this tragedy. Secondly, to complete the aviation accident record. Without answers as to what happened to this flight, nobody can guarantee it cannot happen again. If there ever is a next time, anyone from our families - including ourselves - could be on board. We simply cannot sit back and do nothing to resolve this dilemma.
Q; What if a corporate entity wishes to make a donation but prefers to pay into the charity's bank account?
A: Please contact the donations office on email@example.com to make arrangements.
Q: Isn't a search like this out of the abilities of a bunch of private sector folk - Surely its best left to governments?
A: Not true. The official search at sea made use of a private sector survey firm working to contract. Project370 intends contracting the world's most capable firm with the best suited equipment for our survey. The governmental efforts could have hired them as well. They didn't. As to the data processing and other work needed for such searches, it is significant to note that the in-depth data analysis made by our statistician is now being validated to a large degree by newer, official estimates of the aircraft's location.
Q: What if the aircraft did not crash at sea?
A: We want to find it. In the extremely unlikely event that it is not on the ocean floor, our surveys will determine that. We will then look at other possibilities.
Q: How will you retrieve the black boxes?
A: Project370 has no intention of touching anything on the aircraft. It certainly has no intention of retrieving the flight recorders. The location of the aircraft, when found, will be given to the lead investigator in Malaysia. It will certainly be "new and compelling" evidence. They can then continue the investigation - including retrieval of the flight recorders, from there.
Q: What has the project cost so far?
A: That is difficult to answer accurately. Each member has been spending their own money on various things. A quick round-up from 17 members seems to indicate that they have collectively spent roughly US$35 000 between them on direct costs of their involvement, informally and formally, in the search for MH370 during the past two and a half years. However, that is all prior to the Project being formalised. The actual Project370 set-up costs are in the region of US$8 500.
Q: Who will pay for travel by members of the project?
A: No travel is needed. All meetings and communication is conducted on the internet. If a project member wants to travel anywhere, that's their own matter and they have to pay for that themselves. No jollies on donor money, that's guaranteed.
Q: How can we be sure you are really set up as you claim and have access to the survey technology you mention?
A: We have made full disclosure of details of legal advisors and proposed contractors on the about us information page. Nothing is hidden and all aspects are verifiable.
Q: Why does the ICAN register show the project370 org domain as belonging to a South African ISP?
A: The project co-ordinator is a South African. He secured a very favourable deal for registration and hosting of Project370's web services from a local ISP. The original registration was in his name. It has now been transferred to the ISP pending transfer to Project370 Limited. Once the tranfer is complete, the ICAN register will be updated.
Q: So surely the web hosting and other such costs will come from donations?
A: No. These are being covered by a sponsor and only amount to US$5.00 per month including annual domain registration.
Q: Previous crowd funders failed to raise much more than US$100 000. How will this be different?
A: Project370 is aware that a previous campaign (totally unrelated to Project370 or any of its officers or volunteers) in 2014 failed to meet its target. The lesson drawn was that no such project could be successful on public donations alone ( you are welcome to please prove us wrong!). Furthermore, there needed to be formal structures and full accountability in place - which is the only manner in which we would have established Project370 in any case. Lastly, a targeted marketing and donation campaign has been planned with the assistance of marketing specialists. So we have accountability, transparency, a formal legal structure, technical expertise and a thoroughly worked-out plan of action.
Q: What if you never get enough money to go to sea - who gets my donation?
A: A valid question. We built it - we cannot force the world to make it happen. In the unlikely event that insufficient donations are found to complete the task we have set, then any and all donations to that point will nevertheless go towards flight safety. Project370's charter states such funds are to go to ICAO or any other non-profit entity for the furtherance of over water tracking technology to be used on civilian airliners. So either way, you are contributing to the improvement of aviation safety through your donation.
Q: Is Project370 involved with any of the lawsuits against the airline or the aircraft manufacturer - will my donation not just be used to aid a long, costly legal fight?
A: No. Project370 is a seperate, independent entity. It has no legal link to any of the passengers nor their families thus it cannot be party to any litigation arising from the flight (legally speaking it has no locus-standi) nor does it seek to be party to any such litigation.
Project370's stated aim is to find the aircraft so that the full facts of the flight can then be determined by the appropriate investigative authority and all the project's energies and funding will be expended only towards fulfilling that goal.
Q: At the end of your second quarter you began returning all private individual's donations. Is this not an admission of defeat?
A: We do not think so. It is simply an acknowledgement that the expected appetite for funding a further search among the public did not match the apparent fervour in many corners of social media and the internet. We originally stated that we knew that it was not likely that the target needed could be attained on public donations. We were, therefore, not taken aback at the low level of individual contributions.
It is very evident that the world's media has also tired of the story and is not paying much attention to the flight unless in passing when an official update is made.
So the board decided to concentrate its energies on pursuing the several alternative methods of funding scientific endeavour which exist. We have always felt that these offered the best chance of reaching the goal of finding 9M-MRO. These avenues are proving to be far moe promising.
Returning private individual's donations made to that date was simply the honourable thing to do so as to ensure that no additional individuals were adversely affected by this accident. They are free to re-contribute if they so wish.
We thank those individuals for their vote of confidence in Project 370 and we feel that returning their donations for the present is the most appropriate manner in which to repay their trust in us and to prove that nobody involved with the project is out to enrich themselves or hurt anyone.
Q; What if I still want to donate to Project 370?
A: You can still do so and your donation will be held in trust until we set sail. Contact us on our donations e-mail address available on the contacts link.