Yesterday the Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak broke the news that the families of flight MH 370 didn’t want to hear – but that the rest of the world was expecting. That the Malaysian flight, missing since the 8th March is now considered to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean with no hope of any survivors. The facts still remain pretty scant and will remain so until…well, in truth, who knows when we will find out the truth? Any floating wreckage and bodies may be able to rule out possible causes such as an onboard fire, but the honest truth is no one really believes that to be the case anyway.
It’s funny how the events of September the 11th 2001 have completely change my perspective on what is and is not likely to have happened. I reference 2001 because as I watched those planes crash in to the Wold Trade Centres, I was on the 29th floor of a building in central London – looking at (what were at the time) massive 40 inch TV screens.
I remember thinking that it must be some navigational fault with the plane(s) – seems a bit silly to have thought now. It didn’t cross my mind that someone or a group of people – could hate others so much that they would want to terrorise and kill other people en mass. Strange when only a couple of generations before me had fought in the bloodiest and most brutal of wars the planet has seen. How quickly we forget!
2001 came off the back of the late 90s which after the Labour election of 1997 had been so optimistic. Between 1997 and 2001 I really did have the feeling that anything was possible and that my lifetime could be projected on a chart – it would feature a straight line pointing up! But that was not to be. The world changed in 2001 – like it had at the end of 1945. When stories that MH370 may have been caused by a suicidal or pilots – I’m simply not surprised. Pre-2001 I would have been shocked – post 2001, I’m resigned to the fact that people will do this to other people.
We do not know what drove the people in charge of the plane to switch off the transponders and change course. Maybe they were overcome by intruders. Maybe there was cabin pressurisation problems causing them to make irrational decisions. We may never know. Actual floating wreckage is yet to be found. I dare say the remains of the plane will be found – but it will take years – long after the media circus that has been feeding off the grief of families has packed up and move on.
They may never find the black boxes. They may find the black boxes and find that those, like the transponders were disconnected or if the cabin suffered decompression as some think, due to the length of time the flight remained in the air the boxes would have recorded over themselves – with silence. We may never know the truth about MH 370. The families of the victims deserve so much respect. Not because they have endured so much over the past 2 weeks – but because of what they will have to endure for the rest of their lives. The only thing worse that knowing that a bad thing has happened to someone you love – is not knowing what actually happened. What started out as a one plane disaster – has quickly turned into 239 individual disasters. The airline industry must now act to prevent something like this happening again. As shocking as this air crash is, 2001 showed that anything is possible. The fact that pilot suicides are rare doesn’t mean they do not happen. The airline industry, ever mindful of their bottom line – could and should ensure that no plane is left untracked and unfound for this length of time again. And if they don’t want to. Let’s make them.