Malaysia Airlines 370 and its 329 crew and passengers went missing 327 days ago, and the search continues. The speculation machine has continued to work overtime, churning out theories from accident to hijacking, to pilot misconduct to, as we recall, even the aircraft entering a black hole. None of these theories, however, provide any comfort to the families. Currently, the search is focused on four ships mapping the ocean floor. While no new hard information into the cause of the accident has been uncovered, the Malaysian Government believes the time has come to conclude that the crash was an accident.
The Malaysian Government’s declaration that the loss was the result of an accident has real significance, as it is “a move that will open the way for the victims’ family members to receive compensation.” [Link]. As we have observed previously, the parameters of that compensation are governed by the Montreal Convention which covers international air transportation and to which Malaysia is a signatory.
Malaysia Airlines, based upon the Malaysian Government’s statement, has indicated that it will now proceed to pay compensation “in accordance with applicable laws.” We would read that as being in accordance with applicable international agreements and, to the extent those agreements mandate the use of local laws, the laws of the various countries of citizenship of the victims, including China.
While all of us hope that ultimately there are some real answers regarding what happened and that we can put the speculation to rest, moving forward with the payment of compensation is reason for some optimism that progress is being made. It won’t bring closure to the families, but it may, hopefully, assist them, to some degree, in coping with the loss.
It has been reported that some of the families find the determination of an accident unacceptable since it brings a measure of finality to the hope many of them harbor that their loved ones are still alive. Plane-ly Spoken respectfully disagrees.
Some news, however limited, in the context of MH370, is still good news.
(Originally posted February 2, 2015)