MH 370: “A Continuing Exercise in Circumstantial Speculation”

CNN anchor Carol Costello, just yesterday, seemingly agreeing with the outrage of the daughter of the Malaysia Airlines captain, indicated “There just aren’t any hardcore answers.”  Ms. Costello is absolutely correct! Not only are there no answers, but the Malaysian accident investigators continue, though incompetence and ineptness, to feed the outrage and the total lack of confidence in this investigation.

Let’s stop making excuses for such incompetence.  For weeks, we heard analysis of the words “All right.  Good night”.  Now we’re told these words don’t appear and it’s actually “Good Night.  Malaysian Three Seven Zero”.  Inexcusable! The tape of air-ground communications was available from day one.  I’ve been involved with thousands of such tapes and transcripts and the utter incompetence in this regard is inexplicable.

The search effort, despite the commitment of the world community and thousands of dedicated searchers on ships and planes, has been a “Keystone Kops Komedy.”  Maybe with central coordination by the Australians, something will happen, but we’re starting to hear a note of realism creep into briefings by Air Vice Marshal Angus Houston, the search coordinator.  As the clock ticks and the search area remains virtually unmanageable in size, the chances of finding aircraft debris, much less the recorders, are diminishing rapidly.

There is a pretty good chance we’ll never know what happened to MH 370.  It appears however, the Malaysian Government has decided it was a criminal act and will, directly or indirectly, using “circumstantial speculation,” blame one or both of the pilots.  After all, they’re not around to defend themselves.

If and when the aircraft is ever found, maybe we’ll all get answers.  In the meantime, all of us have to accept the fact that some mysteries take longer than others to be solved and some may never be solved.

None of this provides consolation to the families, whose emotions have been beaten to death by not only the disappearance of the aircraft, but the ineptness of the investigation which continues to this moment.

If these events had happened in the United States, we would likely have calls for Congressional investigations, appointment of a special counsel, and/or a GAO investigation.  Hopefully, ICAO, the United Nations and/or the world community will raise their voices, collectively or individually, and make it clear that such ineptness by a nation in the context of international airline operations cannot be accepted.

The on-going damage being done as you read these words to the credibility and effectiveness of ICAO Annex 13, the families of the passengers and crewmembers of Malaysia Airlines, the airline, as well as the Malaysian Government, is going to take years, perhaps decades, to repair.  This entire event, even as it continues to unfold, will provide boundless case studies about how not to conduct an international accident investigation.

The entire world airline community should be worried about the ability of certain nations, many of them probably signatories to Annex 13, to conduct competent accident investigations.  Whether working through their airline alliances, through IATA or through their respective nations’ regulatory/investigatory agencies, the airline community will undoubtedly make their concerns known since they could, just as easily, be the victims of such ineptness in many of the foreign countries to which they fly.

(Originally posted April 2, 2014)

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