Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Flight into oblivion

I'm fascinated by the disapp-earance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Five days on, not a single trace of the plane has been found, despite a massive search operation. What the hell happened to it?

Theories proliferate by the hour. Was it a terrorist attack? Did the pilot commit suicide? Did a structural fault cause the plane to decompress and break up? Was the co-pilot distracted by female passengers he invited into the cockpit? Was the plane sabotaged? Was it hijacked? Did one of the pilots have a mental breakdown? Was there a total electrical failure? Right now it's anyone's guess.

And I think of the 239 passengers and crew, assuming they were on a routine flight to Beijing, maybe looking forward to a holiday, or visiting families, or just getting back home. Relaxing, joking, watching movies, snoozing. Then all of a sudden, apparently with no warning whatever, thrown into oblivion.

Distraught relatives and friends clustered at the two airports, waiting frantically for news, hoping for a miracle but facing up to the grim reality. Wishing their loved ones had been on any flight except that one. Their lives abruptly shattered, all their expectations for the future thrown into disarray.

So what the hell went wrong? As one aviation expert said, "It's pretty baffling. Whatever happened on that flight deck, the pilots did not do what pilots do. They aviate, they navigate and they communicate. If something happens at altitude, the first thing they want to do is squawk emergency."

And the search for the remains of flight MH370 continues.

Pic: the long, long wait for news

27 comments:

susie said...

What about the cell phones that seemed to have a live signal after the crash? And the final words from the pilot? "All right, good night."

It's sad and creepy.

Nick said...

Susie: Yes, that's weird about the cell phones. And the pilot's message is a bit ominous.

John Gray said...

Been listening to the debate about the plane on LBC today
What do I think?
Well for what it's work
The plane crashed into a big sea
A big sea that has hidden it

Bijoux said...

I don't know enough about it, but would GPS location of phones not register if in the ocean?

Nick said...

John: Very likely that it crashed into the sea, but why?

Bijoux: Presumably if the phones are waterlogged GPS isn't working. Which is why nobody knows where the plane is. But in that case why did the phones give a signal?

Nick said...

Susie: Re the final words from the pilot. This is said to be the crew's response to Malaysian air traffic controllers telling them the flight was entering Vietnamese airspace and air traffic controllers from Ho Chi Minh City would take over.

Grannymar said...

I wonder if the Ho Chi Minh City air traffic controllers did actually take over?

Helen Devries said...

It's horribly puzzling...but the ocean can hide a lot.

I do wish they would not photograph the relatives.

CheerfulMonk said...

It's not surprising that it hasn't been found. My heart goes out to the relatives.

Nick said...

Grannymar: Good question, which nobody seems to have answered.

Helen: I gather they're searching the Malaysian mountains as well as the sea.

I think the odd photo of distressed relatives is fair enough, as long as they aren't also being pestered for comments and reactions.

Jean: The continuing lack of any solid information must be quite harrowing.

Keith said...

I see some brainless burk is now saying that the plane was taken up into a giant alien spaceship and it will reappear sometime in the future and continue it's flight as if nothing had happened!

Obviously he watched too many Star Trek episodes.

Secret Agent Woman said...

A couple of hours ago, a Chinese news agency satellite images a possible crash site in the ocean. It will help if they have some physical evidence to figure out what happened.

CheerfulMonk said...

Here's a l ink about the Chinese satellite pictures: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/12/missing-malaysia-airlines-satellite-images_n_4951966.html?ncid=webmail3

Nick said...

Keith: There's always the predictable quota of totally deranged theories from people confusing fantasy with reality....

Agent and Jean: I read that Vietnamese and Malaysian authorities have looked for debris at the sites suggested by China but can't find anything.

Alan G said...

It seems to me only the worse could be expected unfortunately. That presumption on my part is based on the assumption that if it weren't something very catastrophic that had taken place that surely someone on the aircraft would have been able to get off a cell phone call or text message at some point.

It seems all about the families left behind to me now and the enormous void and complete lack of defining information they are faced with - that has got to be mentally excruciating for them.

Nick said...

Alan: You're probably right about the lack of phone calls or texts suggesting something totally catastrophic. And yes, the complete lack of information must be agonising.

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm not following too closely (no teevee to keep assaulting me) but wasn't there something about false passports? And terrorists?

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Two passengers were travelling on stolen passports, but they're not thought to be terrorists. At the moment there's no evidence of terrorism.

CheerfulMonk said...

Andy Borowitz points out that just because there's no information doesn't mean the news media aren't covering it 24 hours a day: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2014/03/total-absence-of-information-about-malaysia-flight-not-hindering-twenty-four-hour-coverage-cable-net.html?utm_source=tny&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=borowitz&mbid=nl_Borowitz%20%2848%29

My heart does go out to the friends and relatives. People don't always get the closure they need.

Nick said...

Jean: Absolutely! 24/7 rolling coverage of the latest unfounded rumours and the Malaysian authorities endlessly insisting "we're doing everything we possibly can." Heaven forbid the media might say nothing until they have some solid facts.

Rummuser said...

I will wait. They mystery will eventually be solved, even if just with a story like the old Bermuda Triangle ones.

Nick said...

Ramana: Yes, I guess the mystery will be solved eventually, though it could take many months.

As for the Bermuda Triangle, I think the jury's still out on whether the area really is more dangerous than any other.

susie said...

Did you think this post would last this long? Sheesh.

Jenny Woolf said...

I too am absolutely riveted by this story, but I think some of that is anxiety too. When everything is possible anything is possible. For the sake of the family I hope that something soon gets discovered about what happened to their relatives.

Nick said...

Susie: Jenny and I have been in Edinburgh over the weekend. But yes, I was pretty sure the mystery would still be unsolved by the time we got back on Monday evening!

Jenny: Not anxiety in my case, as I have every confidence in the general safety of air travel. But I just think, How on earth can a plane with 239 people on board just disappear without a trace? It's extraordinary.

CheerfulMonk said...

Here's the latest on the news coverage from Andy Borowitz: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2014/03/cnn-apologizes-for-briefly-airing-non-flight-370-story.html?utm_source=tny&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=borowitz&mbid=nl_Borowitz%20%2850%29

Nick said...

Jean: Indeed, what was CNN thinking of? Interrupting the flight-mystery coverage for an update on some boring country near Russia. An absolute disgrace.