Whatever Happened To...MH Flight 370?
Reporting by Doug McKelway
Since it disappeared on March 8, 2014, MH Flight 370 has remained one of the most puzzling aviation accidents in history.
Tantalizing evidence, like the flaperon and other confirmed pieces found on Reunion Island East of Madagascar, have revealed little and only serve to remind of the Indian Ocean’s strong currents and inhospitable vastness.
Searches have cost the governments hundreds of millions of dollars and have proved fruitless.
Debora Hersman, former NTS chair, told FOX News that “going forward the question is going to be who is going to continue to fund this search. Water recoveries can be extremely expensive but I would absolutely say the private sector can bring resources and new techniques and technologies forward and I would encourage that to continue.”
Now, a private company is doing just that. Ocean Infinity, which specializes in state o the art remotely piloted vehicles, is finalizing a contract with the Malaysian government, under which it would be paid only if it finds the wreckage.
Even absent a cause, the disappearance has led to calls for new safety changes—foremost of which is sending real time data from planes in flight.
“Technology can tell us where the nearest Starbucks is. We have got to adapt some of that satellite based technology to aircraft and really advance the ability to track them regardless of where in the world we are,” said Hersman.
The impediments are huge. Flight data recorders, which once complied six data points, now compile hundreds. And while airliners can easily download satellite data for internet and TV, uploading data requires pinpoint accuracy from a fast moving plane. Multiply that across a sky full of planes and it taxes bandwidth and airline budgets.
“I think you start with the premise that you want this technology, if you want it at all, with respect to airplanes that are out of radar contact for long period of time and that’s transoceanic flights,” said aviation attorney Mark Dombroff.
Speculation about the disappearance is still running rampant. Was it terrorism? A suicidal pilot? Mechanical failure? A fire? On that last note the FAA is now urging the world’s airlines to ban large laptops from checked luggage because of the potential for lithium battery fires. MH 370 was carrying 487 pounds of lithium-ion batteries in its cargo hold.