The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

March 27, 2014

Our View: MH370's fate may always be a mystery

Why It Matters: How can a giant jetliner vanish so completely from the face of the Earth?

In this increasingly interconnected, wired world, it’s difficult to believe that a giant jet, designed to skip across continents, could simply vanish into the void, never to be seen again.

Who knew that an airline cockpit could be converted into a bastion of privacy from a keystroke-counting world of monitors and surveillance?

More than two weeks ago, Malaysia Airline Flight 370, bearing 239 passengers and crew, took off for a flight to Beijing. Instead, it is currently believed, the flight ended up in the southern Indian Ocean, having traveled in roughly the opposite direction of its scheduled flight path.

If the jetliner is indeed somewhere in those vast, isolated waters, we may never know exactly how it got there. The physical evidence may be as much as 23,000 feet below the surface. Exactly where it is is as great a mystery as how it got there.

Theories about the jetliner’s disappearance abound — Sabotage. Mass murder-suicide by the pilots. A fire in the cargo hold. Without the wreckage, without the data captured by the proverbial “black box” data recorder, those theories are largely untestable.

Some questions simply have no answers, and Flight 370’s fate is loaded with them.

What does seem likely are steps intended to prevent such mysteries in the future.

We can expect the aviation world to address how a wide-body aircraft bristling with electronics can be cut off from contact and the lack of information about what the pilots were doing when the flight veered sharply off course.

Such changes will do nothing to answer the questions about MH370 or assuage the grief and anger of the relatives of those on board. They would, however, make it easier to track and explain any future disappearances, as unlikely as they seemed before this case.

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