The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 several weeks ago is a mystery that rivals the plot lines of a best-selling novel or a Hollywood block buster film.
It was just after midnight on March 8 when the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport bound for Beijing, China with 239 passengers and crew members onboard. Approximately an hour later, the plane failed to make contact with Vietnamese air traffic controllers and subsequently disappeared just minutes after the pilots had their final verbal communications with Malaysian air traffic controllers.
Since then, the world has become captivated by this mystery. The focus of search efforts have shifted numerous times from the seas off the coast of Malaysia and the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean and the coast of Australia based on special satellite analysis and the few bits of factual evidence investigators have obtained.
Dozens of countries, including the United States, China, and Australia, have come together and committed significant resources in an attempt to find the missing aircraft. Despite weeks of searching by air and sea, there has been no debris found that can be connected to the missing aircraft. However, there have been plenty of reports of debris spotted in the ocean by aircraft, ships, and satellites which resulted in being nothing but trash and other junk floating on the water.
Furthermore, investigators, searchers, and many of the parties involved have come under criticism for the handling of this situation. There will be an appropriate time, after the plane is found and the mystery is solved, for criticism, assigning blame, and making improvements for the future. However, as someone who has been closely following this story, I believe the messages coming from Malaysian officials have been inconsistent, incoherent and sometimes even inappropriate.
I understand this is an unprecedented situation and Malaysia is inexperienced and unprepared in regards to investigating transportation mishaps like this one. However, there have been too many mixed messages and conflicting claims and, most of all, a severe lack of transparency.
This is an unprecedented situation; are searchers even looking in the right place for the aircraft? Did it even crash or has it been taken over and landed by terrorists in some remote part of the world? These are just some of the questions being asked by the families of missing passengers, the media, and ordinary people like you and me around the world.
As someone who bills himself as a frequent flyer, a seasoned traveler and a son of an airline employee, I am personally disturbed by the thought of a commercial jet disappearing seemingly out of thin air in this day and age. I have been on over a thousand flights in my lifetime and I have flown to over 20 countries, so I would personally like to vouch for the reliability of commercial aircraft, especially the Boeing 777.
Only two significant accidents involving Boeing 777 aircraft have been recorded according to CNN, and the majority of passengers survived each incident. One was due to a mechanical problem that was quickly corrected in other planes while the other is believed to be due to pilot error, although it is still under investigation.
An accident of this magnitude involving a triple seven has never occurred so the disappearance of this plane probably has nothing to do with a mechanical malfunction and it was deliberately flown somewhere of course. If any crew member is involved with the disappearance of MH370, people who travel by plane will have suspicions and less confidence in the people responsible for making it to their destination safely. On the other hand, if this plane were taken and possibly crashed by terrorists, the traveling public will face a similar situation to that of the aftermath of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. Whatever or whoever caused this plane to disappear, and most likely crash somewhere in the Indian Ocean, won’t be known until the plane is actually found.
The United States has provided special, high-tech equipment to the search such as advanced P-8 Navy aircraft that specialize in searching above and under the water and remotely operated submersibles that use sonar to scan the ocean for plane wreckage.
Most recently, these underwater submersibles have been operating in the Indian Ocean looking for any sign of the doomed airliner while the visual searching using ships and military aircraft may soon come to the end, according to the Australian officials who have taken a leading role in the search for MH370.
Despite what has happened to this plane, I feel no differently about stepping on a plane, such as the Boeing 777, and taking a flight. In fact, I still would rather travel by plane than use any other mode of transportation, including by car. Traveling by plane has become second nature to me and I will never refuse to take to the skies because of an air accident such as this one because I am positive air travel has never been safer as it is today.
It is vital all efforts be made in order to find this missing plane for two primary reasons. First, some closure must be brought to the families and relatives of the passengers of MH370. If I were in their position, I would want every effort made to find the plane. Second, the airline industry always learns and improves from deadly and tragic accidents like this one. It must be determined what caused this plane to disappear and crash in order to assure this never happens again to a commercial aircraft carrying hundreds of souls on board. You or I may just survive because of it.