After being put up in hotels since Malaysia Flight 370 disappeared in the south Indian Ocean, the airline has told family members of the lost plane to go home to await updates about the search. The relatives had been sheltered in hotel rooms by the airline since the plane went down almost two months ago. Now Malaysia Airline is shutting down the help units on May 7, 2014, advising family members that the will be advised on the searches progress either by telephone or in person. The airline will be devoting space to implementing resource centers for families in both Beijing and Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia Airlines is also about to make rectification payments to surviving kith and kin, although no amount has been disclosed. These payments may not prevent families from suing the airline in the future.
Despite the fact Malaysian flight 370 dropped out of sight in the wee hours of March 8, 2014 at 1:21 AM Malaysia time, left behind families are being told to go home to wait for incoming news. Meanwhile, ground monitors of aircraft in Vietnam did not think to ask about it until 1:38 AM. During that time, the Malaysia Military had been aware of a friendly object on their radar, but did not put two and two together right away. They followed the object, which seemed to turn around from heading towards Beijing, China, back towards Malaysia. It then followed a set aeronautic path over many aerodynamic passageways used by planes while it traveled 200 miles northwest en route to the Strait of Malacca where it went black on military radar at 2:15 AM.
There is a system in place with which to keep tabs on airplanes; ACARS, known as the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System. Almost all aircraft have it, utilizing it mainly for maintenance issues that arise in flight, but also for communications. ACARS can be accessed over land by radio or by satellite, which costs more, for planes heading out over the oceans of the world. Malaysia Airlines maintained ACARS on their planes, including flight 370, but somehow that flights apparatus was switched off, as was the planes transponder. In order to deactivate these serious data transmitting devices, a person in the cockpit of the plane had to manually turn them off. There is speculation as to why this would have been done.
Millions in cash has been spent searching for the defunct plane since March. The aircraft is suspected to be in the South Indian Ocean west of Australia, one of the most inaccessible seas on the planet. The precise location remains a mystery, yet pings from the planes transponder were thought to be heard in April in the Indian Ocean in the area of Australia. An unmanned submersible has been in use for weeks now on loan from the U.S. Navy but has not been able to find any remains on the ocean floor. Some say that the reason is the dying signals from the planes transmitting apparatus. The life of the transponders is only one month, making a search the size of this one no easy task.
In contrast to other quests for missing aircraft, Malaysia Flight 370 is the longest in aeronautics history, perplexing families of lost loved ones why they are being told to go home. Confusing officials is the fact that there has been no debris found floating on the water in the almost two months since the plane went down, despite an extensive search by boats, a robotic submarine and planes. Also there is the fact that radar contact was lost within an hour of the flight taking off. The Malaysian Transport Ministry is calling on the U.N. to investigate whether or not automatic tracking of planes is the best way to go when keeping up with aircraft placing in the world. They are suggesting some form of a real-time tracking system that would provide an advantage in a situation like this one. It would identify the exact location of a plane if it encounters trouble and relay that information directly to the proper authorities who could then take the appropriate measures.
Opinion by Korrey Laderoute