Officials “lowering expectations” on Flight 370, warn answers may never come

posted at 3:21 pm on April 2, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Will the families of those lost on Malaysia Air Flight 370 ever get an answer to the big question — what happened? After almost a month of looking for the wreckage and clues to the flight’s disappearance, officials in Malaysia and Australia have begun tempering expectations about the success of the search efforts. We may never know what happened, or find enough of the wreckage to make that determination:

A police investigation may never determine the reason why the Malaysia Airlines jetliner disappeared, and search planes scouring the India Ocean for any sign of its wreckage aren’t certain to find anything either, officials said Wednesday.

The assessment by Malaysian and Australian officials underscored the lack of knowledge authorities have about what happened on Flight 370. It also points to a scenario that becomes more likely with every passing day – that the fate of the Boeing 777 and the 239 people on board might remain a mystery forever. …

Police are investigating the pilots and crew for any evidence suggesting they may have hijacked or sabotaged the plane. The backgrounds of the passengers, two-thirds of whom were Chinese, have been checked by local and international investigators and nothing suspicious has been found.

“Investigations may go on and on and on. We have to clear every little thing,” Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. “At the end of the investigations, we may not even know the real cause. We may not even know the reason for this incident.”

That will understandably enrage the survivors of Flight 370, but it raises questions for the airline industry beyond this particular incident. Most people believed that such a disappearance was all but impossible in the modern age of air traffic control and satellite communications. The inability to provide any answers at all — and the inability to quickly determine where the plane actually went — has likely undermined confidence in air travel, Clive Irving wrote earlier this week:

No accident in the history of aviation has so spooked people around the world. It’s like the old Bermuda Triangle phobia but many times worse —how can a large state-of-the-art jet with an impeccable record vanish without trace?

Amazement that this is possible is turning into outrage. The public has realized that there are serious gaps in the technology used to track flights. They are rightly angered to discover that we still have to devote huge resources to finding the airplane’s black box when the same critical data could be in the hands of investigators now but for the failure to adopt live streaming.

It’s also been infuriating to watch the ineptitude—or worse—of the Malaysian authorities as they attempt to manage the grief of the families of those missing and repeatedly build hopes that wreckage has been found and then have to confess that it hasn’t.

Yahoo’s Danielle Wiener-Bronner argues that Flight 370 will change the future of flying — or it had better do so, anyway:

In order to win back some of the confidence that has built up over years of relative safety (consider that nearly 1.3 million people die in car accidents every year) the aviation industry will likely have to adopt some new standards in response to this latest tragedy. Even as they are still unsure what, if any, measures could have prevented it.

In tandem with its positive report on Tuesday, IATA said it is creating a task force to make recommendations on how to improve aircraft tracking by the end of the year. IATA General Director Tony Tyler said, “in a world where our every move seems to be tracked, there is disbelief that an aircraft could simply disappear. Accidents are rare, but the current search for 370 is a reminder that we cannot be complacent on safety,” adding “we cannot let another aircraft simply vanish.” …

Last week, Joe Kolly, the research and engineering director for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said the group is examining live-streaming some flight data recorders, removing the need to search for a plane’s black box in the event of a crash. According to Kolly, “You’re looking for what is the most important information… We have our staff involved in technical meetings and discussions and working groups on just what type of data you would need… what are the rates at which those data need to be transmitted, [and] what is going to trigger the data download.”

That would be an expensive proposition, and would be too overwhelming for real-time reactions to in-flight incidents. In the US alone, thousands of commercial flights take place every day, with so few incidents as to make this impractical, even if remote intervention would make any difference at all. But it would make recovery of the so-called “black boxes” a moot point after an incident, and might in this case have made the search efforts a lot more accurate from the first moments of awareness of the incident.

The article also notes that a $10 software upgrade would have improved the search effort, but wasn’t mandated, and better passenger screening and international data-sharing should have taken place, too. The latter doesn’t appear to have played a role in the incident (as far as is known now, of course), and Malaysian officials dispute the necessity of the former. All of these propositions are generally applicable to the industry, but until we find out more about what really took place, none of them address the why of Flight 370′s disappearance. We may have to resign ourselves to the fact that this mystery may never be solved at all.


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I know … people HERE may have issue with what I am reading there so I’ve invited them to head over THERE.

PolAgnostic on April 2, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Yours ain’t any goofier than many other theories here. Though geeze, the 777 nuclear cruise missile on is way out there. And it has been since the first day.

Only crankyoldlady has special dispensation on her theories.

Everybody else is fair game.

Even those debating the Inmarsat pings.

The Inmarsat people maybe know what they are doing.

Nobody else has had the power to shift search areas.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 5:44 PM

No thanks. I have other links for pilot talks (where I know who many of them are). Or, I just go talk to folks I know who are real pilots.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Hey, we seem to bump into one another on these threads mostly and while my style is different than yours….I do enjoy others with a direct style. Makes it easier to learn and get to the point. Not that my opinions matter, but I find it easy to converse with you.

HonestLib on April 2, 2014 at 5:45 PM

S1000RR right? :)

nullrouted on April 2, 2014 at 5:10 PM

What next…you going to tell me the colour also? Chuckle. I may be old but I still like to go fast comfortably.

HonestLib on April 2, 2014 at 5:48 PM

Officials “lowering expectations” on Flight 370, warn answers may never come

Well, it’s officially a slow news day. I don’t think most of us even have expectations about Flight 370 anymore between Malaysian incompetence/cover-up, nations unwilling to share information for over a week, and what essentially amounts to trying to find a needle in Alaska from the air.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Yours ain’t any goofier than many other theories here. Though geeze, the 777 nuclear cruise missile on is way out there. And it has been since the first day.

Only crankyoldlady has special dispensation on her theories.

Everybody else is fair game.

Even those debating the Inmarsat pings.

The Inmarsat people maybe know what they are doing.

Nobody else has had the power to shift search areas.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 5:44 PM

.
The problem is people miss that it is easier to take 777 load it up with fuel and C4 till it just makes it off the ground, fly it over your target and detonate it.

BOOM! A Hiroshima size explosion is just that easy.

I THINK the Inmarsat/British air experts know what they are doing … but given the risk, I would PREFER they share with the know with other experts … you know, the SCIENTIFIC method of having other validate your results.

For my money, the U.S. and China KNOW what happened to the plane because if they didn’t, they would be turning things upside down to find out.

PolAgnostic on April 2, 2014 at 5:56 PM

So…..still not a single piece of debris. Not one theory that makes sense and now we must lower our expectations????? No.
They are all incompetent or lying or both. I hope the families make a big stink about this because no one else will. $5,000 wouldn’t be enough to make me shut up if any of them were my loved ones.

BetseyRoss on April 2, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Scum of the Earth

Schadenfreude on April 2, 2014 at 3:57 PM

-
Lower than scum if that’s possible. – I’d love to be on that jury.

diogenes on April 2, 2014 at 6:00 PM

The Inmarsat people maybe know what they are doing.

Nobody else has had the power to shift search areas.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 5:44 PM

That’s really a tacit admission that nobody has a clue where to search.

My opinion is that, for whatever reason, the plane essentially became a lawn dart and went under without creating a large amount of debris.

Beyond that, all I’ll say is that the Boeing 777 does not have a record that would suggest the aircraft is unsafe. If mechanical failure, it probably has to do with Malaysian Airways maintenance(who didn’t even subscribe for the service for Boeing to monitor aircraft performance) or something in the cargo.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2014 at 6:00 PM

I find it easy to converse with you.

HonestLib on April 2, 2014 at 5:45 PM

I am the easiest guy in the world to get along with. Of course you would.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 6:24 PM

He would probably need to trust much of what he’s being told by the company’s engineers.

blink on April 2, 2014 at 6:42 PM

As long as they don’t get their metric/imperial mixed up.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 6:44 PM

My opinion is that, for whatever reason, the plane essentially became a lawn dart and went under without creating a large amount of debris.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Going in like a lawn dart would have caused the plane to disintegrate leaving all kinds of floating debris.

A soft landing like the US Airways on the Hudson would cause the least amount of debris.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 6:52 PM

My original theory is still the correct one.

Murphy9 on April 2, 2014 at 7:22 PM

A soft landing like the US Airways on the Hudson would cause the least amount of debris.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 6:52 PM

.
The pilots from that part of the world just dismiss the possibility of a U.S. Airways type of ditching in the Indian Ocean.

PolAgnostic on April 2, 2014 at 7:30 PM

PolAgnostic on April 2, 2014 at 7:30 PM

I don’t agree with that scenario either. Just explaining that it is the way to get the least visible debris.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 7:33 PM

My original theory is still the correct one.

Murphy9 on April 2, 2014 at 7:22 PM

Refresh my memory. What was that?

crankyoldlady on April 2, 2014 at 7:42 PM

crankyoldlady on April 2, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Doesn’t matter. Mine is still the correct one.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 7:47 PM

I don’t agree with that scenario either. Just explaining that it is the way to get the least visible debris.

cozmo on April 2, 2014 at 7:33 PM

.
I knew where you were coming from on that topic. My reply was aimed at those who ask endless questions so they can disagree with a civil reply.

PolAgnostic on April 2, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Refresh my memory. What was that?

crankyoldlady on April 2, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Plane gone

Murphy9 on April 2, 2014 at 10:35 PM

I imagine that there will be an order that all commercial aircraft have an instrument that transmits their location every few minutes while above stall speed, that it cannot be turned off, and has its own power supply.

sadatoni on April 3, 2014 at 7:28 AM

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