The Search For Flight MH370 Continues…

By Aditi Roy

Several weeks have passed since Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8,  2014 on what should have been its journey from Kuala Lumpour, Malaysia to Beijing, China. Instead, recent evidence suggests that Flight 370 most likely ended up in the depths of the Indian Ocean.  What we cannot seem to fathom is how in today’s day and age could a commercial airline carrying 239 people just vanish? And why hasn’t it been found yet? In what light has the media presented this case?With so many complex theories and so little time left to find out what happened that night, officials are scrambling to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft.

A lot of speculation surrounds MH370’s disappearance. As far as factual information goes, here’s what we know; the Boeing 777-200 ER departed at 12:21 for its expected arrival in Beijing in approximately 6 hours. At 1:19 a.m. the last spoken words “Goodnight Malaysia 370” were uttered through the transponder and at 1.21 a.m. it was shut off. It was at this point when the plane made a sharp turn heading down south towards Malaysia instead of proceeding north as scheduled. It disappeared from the radar at 2:40 a.m. According to signals from neighboring countries, the flight took a route that completely avoided Indonesian airspace. This complex change in course could have only been carried out by someone who had the excellent flying skills to maneuver a commercial jet. The aircraft had enough fuel to last 7.5 hours, even though it’s scheduled airtime was just over 6 hours. Finally. there were in fact at least two passengers with stolen passports on board.

Everything else we know about this flight’s fate is not 100% certain. There is no solid evidence surrounding the current search, which is based on probability. Avid visitors off CNN you will see a new update being posted about possible leads in the investigation almost every hour. This was the case for Air France Flight 447 that disappeared on June 1, 2009 and the actual site of the crash was found in the Atlantic ocean floor two years later. With this aircraft, 36 hours after the crash, some debris was found floating in the water that provided a much narrow search range to find the plane and confirmation of its fate. On the other hand, finding Malaysia 370 in the vast Indian Ocean will be like trying to find a single grain of rice in an Olympic swimming pool or a pencil eraser in a football field. This, in addition to the mighty ocean currents and unrelated debris in the ocean will lead to what could be an incredibly lengthy quest to locate the wreckage. All jets contain a black box that operates for thirty days before its battery dies, sending out pings that would help locate major wreckage sites. Over 30 days have passed since the flight’s disappearance and the black box has not been found. Now with no definitive area to search, and the pressure from families and friends desperately demanding to find out what happened to their loved ones is increasing.

The currently believed theory is that there must have been some sort of major diversion on the plane that would cause the pilot to take this major change in route, whether a fire or some other emergency. At this point in the investigation, all of the passengers have been cleared of a possible hijacking, even those with the stolen passports, ruling out the turn in the flight’s course as a possible“criminal offense”. Endless questions remain about the reason behind the alternative path that avoided airspace and if it was deliberate and why. Satellite imaging showed reasons to believe the plane may have ended up in the southern Indian Ocean near Australia, where various countries’ search teams are looking. As of now the search is being executed around the two pings that were heard by Chinese ships that matched the frequency of the black box, 37.5 Hertz.

Realistically, the search could take several more weeks, months, and even years.These are real people working under strenuous conditions and immense odds. While they face the agonizing wait to find out the truth, family and friends of the missing are mourning together to pass through these difficult times. They should be given privacy, but the media can’t seem to understand that.We all know what grief and pain looks like. So why must interviewers ask questions that would evoke painful response from these people?  Under no circumstances should this ever be acceptable.  And under no circumstances should libel be used to create headlines, as what happened to the pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s daughter when a British tabloid released an article that falsely claimed that she said her father was not in the proper mental state before he went missing. While it is the media’s job to keep the people informed, it is not their place to daunt on the victims of tragedy.

What can be learned from this disaster? Perhaps we are overconfident with our technological reaches against the forces of mother nature and the inevitable presence of chance. Perhaps we are too trusting of modern systems to never fail. This was certainly the case for the infamous Titanic and unfortunately history repeats itself. One thing is for certain. The events surrounding Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 will not be forgotten and we should reconsider the manner in which the news of these adversities are delivered..

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