The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 still missing

“It is very frustrating that in an age where we can always know our position via a smartphone, have satellites that can read license plate numbers and have a manned space station circling the earth, we can still lose track of a commercial airliner,” said David Ison, chair of the Master of Aeronautical Science program and assistant professor of aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in an email interview with The Guilfordian.

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has baffled the world for over three weeks. To date, the fate of the 239 passengers onboard remains unconfirmed.

After an extensive two-week search by a team of international aviation specialists, Malaysia Airlines finally arrived at a sobering conclusion.

“Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived,” read the airline’s text message to the families of victims on Monday, March 24.

The decision to inform family members via text message has received widespread criticism from many. Nearly 100 relatives and supporters marched on the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, China, chanting “Liars!” and “Malaysia, return our relatives!”

However,, Malini Saudranrajan, a spokesperson for Malaysia Airlines, affirmed the airline’s commitment to helping the families of the victims.

“At this point in time, our priority remains to provide all assistance to the families and passengers of the crew,” said Saudranrajan in an email interview with The Guilfordian.

The question now remains: What caused the plane to disappear?

“It is extremely unlikely this was caused by a mechanical problem or fire for two reasons: The plane kept flying along a manipulated route, and there were no communications,” said Ison in an email interview. “If there was a major issue, the plane would not have continued for several hours.”

Both pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid have received much criticism after officials found a flight simulator in Shah’s house. Many people have questioned his competence and handling of the situation.

“Our pilot is a very experienced pilot with more than 18,000 flight hours,” said Saudranrajan in an email interview, while Malaysia Airlines reported being unable to discuss the matter with The Guilfordian.

Experts have indicated that they will not know the fate of the flight until they find the black box which consists of a rectangular housing for electronics and a memory module that holds various data regarding flight parameters.

The problem? Finding it.

Despite various leads, the search for the plane’s debris has proved futile as of March 30.

“We’re not searching for a needle in a haystack — we’re still trying to define where the haystack is,” said Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Australia’s vice chief of defense, to reporters in Perth, Australia.

On March 28, newly analyzed satellite data shifted the search zone about 700 miles northeast of the site previously being searched, raising expectations that searchers are closely approaching the zone of impact. The size of the new zone is approximately 123,000 square miles.

The fiasco surrounding Flight 370 has left many questions unanswered and many disillusioned by the search process and the travel industry. But, according to Ison, the current situation will have few implications for air travel in the future.

“Flying is still the safest mode of major transportation we have,” said Ison in an email interview. “Hopefully this disaster will prompt the world to adopt a better tracking system for aircraft flying in remote locations.”

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