From disaster to mystery ...Despite the black box, we may never know why Flight 370 disappeared
In spite of promising pings thi ast week, the search for and possible retrieval of the black box and other remains of Malaysian Airways Flight 370 may continue for some time. A 24-hour news cycle coupled with an overconfidence in modern technology can lead us to expect closure and answers just around the corner.
History and logic teach a different lesson. Terrible accidents can remain mysteries for decades or more, and modern forensic techniques are no panacea.
When the ocean liner Titanic went down after colliding with an iceberg in 1912, the location of its sinking was witnessed by hundreds of survivors watching from lifeboats. Still, it took until 1985 for the wreckage to be located in the 12,000-foot-deep waters of the North Atlantic.
The seven decades of failed attempts between accident and discovery were attributed to such factors as erroneous location data sent out by the crew as the ship sank. When the wreckage was finally located by means of underwater cameras, it proved to be more than ten miles away from the presumed location.
When, and if, the wreckage of Malaysia Air Flight 370 is found, we can expect it will be gone over with a fine-tooth comb in a search for clues as to what might have happened to the aircraft’s structure. Metal fatigue will unquestionably be looked to as one of the possible mechanisms by which the fuselage might have been suddenly depressurized.
The constant coverage is giving false hope that Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 will be found soon, but history has taught us that disasters of this nature can remain mysteries for decades.