MH 370 “Ping, Ping, Ping…”

It’s been 30 days since MH 370 has gone missing.  While the search goes on, and is hopefully narrowing, that hope should be tempered with reality.

We have yet another theory now being advanced by the Malaysians that the aircraft was being flown to deliberately avoid Indonesian radar.  C’mon guys! Haven’t we learned yet that theories or findings put forth by Malaysia are, at a minimum, suspect.  I guess however, even though the Malaysians have proven not to be the most reliable source of information, the situation demands that all leads still have to be checked out.

While the Malaysian Government has indicated that search efforts will continue until “hell freezes over, “reality dictates otherwise.  The coalition of nations which have come together as part of the search effort may, if the “ping” lead doesn’t pan out, start to recall their men, ships and planes.  Without those resources, hell will, at least insofar as the search is concerned, freeze over.

Some level of search effort will continue, but just like FOX and CNN have seemingly recognized the diminishing value of saying the same thing over and over and over (despite ratings’ increases), the nations engaged in the search will likely cut back or recall their assets.

When this happens, the families of the passengers and the Malaysian Government, will embrace whatever theory they find most compatible with the few facts known.  Unfortunately, that theory is likely to focus on wrongdoing by one or both pilots.  After all, no one can disprove that as having occurred.

The truth is that without the plane and its much publicized “black boxes” (which everyone knows are orange), we’ll never know what happened.  It would be far better for everyone to step up and acknowledge the fact that the probable cause of this event is likely to be unknown.  That probably won’t occur however, since, particularly in aviation, not knowing why an accident occurs is unacceptable.

The Malaysian Government, which has already demonstrated their colossal incompetence, will take the path of least resistance and blame the pilots.  By doing so, at least in their minds, they will have brought closure to this tragedy.  By doing this, the passengers families, in particular, will have someone or something to blame.  Forget about the fact that there’s no hard evidence supporting such a probable cause.  Forget about the fact that the crew will be forever seen as murderers, a label with which their families will have to live.  Right or wrong, the void of not knowing what happened will be filled.

Once the “powers that be” decide the probable cause of this tragedy, the focus will be on what we do going forward.  Undoubtedly, this may include some or all of the following:

  • Eliminating or limiting the ability of pilots to disable transponders
  • Real time data streaming from flight data recorders
  • Increasing the recording capability of cockpit voice recorders to considerably longer than two hours
  • Changes to ICAO Annex 13 to eliminate the kind of incompetence that the Malaysian Government showed to the world
  • Psychological/psychiatric screening for pilots

Now, don’t believe that all of these will be implemented or that they are, or will be, universally supported.  They won’t be and they aren’t. But, taking some action, particularly when we have no clue what happened, is better than taking no action at all.  Unfortunately, in such circumstances, the action taken is frequently unnecessary and serves more as an outlet for the frustration which accompanies not having any answers.

(Originally posted April, 7, 2014)

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