“I am a pair of rugged claws scratching across the ocean floor.”
This line from a poem I read long time ago aptly describes the extreme difficulty, if not hopelessness, of the search for Malaysian Airline Flight 370, which vanished last March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The case of the missing jetliner, which was carrying 239 passengers, indicates that in this modern world where technology is supreme, we still lack sure-fire tools in dealing with life-and-death situations.
Although the Malaysian plane, like other modern-day aircraft, is equipped with sophisticated communications devices, like the transponder, transmitting every second data and information about the flight, there are still obvious loopholes in the aviation system. The airplane must have been equipped with back-up “fail-safe systems, but these, too, did not work.
Due to the lack of credible information, the probe had yielded only few credible information despite the fact that the search involved 26 countries, a dozen satellites, ships, airplanes and aviation and security experts of all kinds.
A few days after the disappearance of the aircraft, there were myriad of theories, speculations, suspicions and hypotheses about what happened to MH 370.
“Everything is on the table,” Steve Wallace, former head of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) accident investigation division, told Bloomberg in an interview.
On the possibility that the pilot killed himself by deliberately crashing the plane, one US aviation official said, “you may also ask that question.”
While the suicide angle is incredible as it seems, FAA data show that there were 24 American pilots who had killed themselves while flying planes in the last two decades. According to a Washington Post report, 23 of those pilots intentionally crashed their craft, and one student pilot jumped out of his plane mid-flight.
Meanwhile, it was reported that Malaysian probers had concluded that MH 370 was hijacked. The basis for this is that the plane’s communications devices failed to function after it lost contact with the ground air-traffic controllers.
The assumption is that the hijackers are experts in aviation and know exactly what gadgets to turn off to stop the communications system from sending and receiving information.
Veteran air-accident investigators and security and intelligence experts cannot buy the hijacking angle simply because it is impossible to hide an aircraft as big as a Boeing 777 and, by this time (more than two weeks after it disappeared), such “secret landing” would have been known by the authorities. Also by this time, the group behind the hijacking would have already claimed responsibility.
One theory that had gained traction as the investigation went on was that the jet might have been diverted, crossed over Malaysia and flew over the Indian Ocean. The plane was believed to have flown for four or five hours after it was diverted, and when it ran out of fuel, it plunged into the deep blue sea.
This possibility prompted the authorities to shift the search from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. Commenting on this change in the area of the search, Cmdr. William Marks of the US 7th Fleet, said, it is like going “from a chess board to a football field.”
Other theories brought to the table include the possibility that the pilots and the passengers might have lost consciousness due to deadly fumes and that the jet, flying on auto pilot, might have turned into a “zombie airplane.”
Another theory being examined is that the plane might have crashed when its lithium batteries exploded.
There were also satellite photos showing possible debris of the airplane floating in the Southern Indian Ocean, but crews of search airplanes that flew over the area failed to locate the objects. Even if these objects are found, there is no guarantee that the plane could be found soon.
As time goes by, the chances of finding the crew and the passengers alive are getting dimmer and dimmer. Latest developments indicated that Flight MH370 ended in the Southern Indian Ocean and that it was presumed all the crew and passengers are already dead.
The search for the crashed airplane is now focused on the vast bottom of the deep Indian Ocean which, in some areas, has depth of 13,000 feet. The presumption is that the search will take days, if not weeks or even months.
If there is any truth we could discover in the MH370 mystery, it is this: In this modern world, the most advanced technologies ever devised by man are still sadly in capable of dealing with certain urgent life-and-death situations.
John Steinbeck knew this cold truth long time ago. In his book entitled “Of Mice and Men,” Steinbeck wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”