A Texas A&M oceanographer who recently returned from helping with the search for the missing Malaysian jetliner says searchers are beginning to come to the conclusion that it is possible that the plane may never be found, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  "The biggest problem of course is that nobody really has the faintest idea of where the plane went down,": Dr. Piers Chapman told 1200 WOAI news.


  He says searchers have been told to look in an area of five mile deep water 100,000 square miles in size.  He says when an Air France crashed into the Atlantic off the coast of South America, it took two years to find the wreckage, despite the fact that officials were aware of its last position, debris was immediately found on the ocean surface, and the search area was a fraction of the area being scoured for the Malaysian jet.


  "It’s not like looking for a needle in a haystack," he said.  "You're still looking for the haystack."


  He says conditions are working against searchers making a breakthrough any time soon.  He says the 'black box' flight recorder only has enough power to send a signal for a short period.


  "This time of year it's moving into winter, and the weather is likely to get worse," he said.  And after the Southern Hemisphere winter ends in November, the ocean currents may have shoved the wreckage hundreds of miles from where it went into the water.


  He says even if the area is located and even if actual wreckage is spotted, that doesn't mean recovering the plane will be easy.


  "Although the planes may be able to see things from the air, telling a ship where they should to pick them up may actually be pretty hard," he said.


  Chapman says the Malaysian plane may become our generation's Titanic, albeit with a far smaller loss of life.  He says it may be found eighty years from now, by some future Robert Ballard, and in it we will find a time capsule of life in 2014.