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Chris Ford: The tragedy of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-370 - will we ever know what happened?

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford

Today, hundreds of family members whose loved ones boarded Malaysian Airlines flight MH-370 at Kuala Lampur for Beijing on March 1 heard confirmation of what they had been dreading all along - that 239 of their nearest and dearest family members and friends had perished off the face of our planet, never to return.

Some families had obviously held onto whatever tiny sliver of hope there was. It seemed cruel when speculation emerged, for example, that the airliner had possibly been hijacked and flown to a hidden location, leaving open the possibility that the passengers and crew aboard were in a somewhat uncomfortable state but still alive.

However, even the most rational observers the world over knew that the inevitable was coming - confirmation that the plane had crashed taking all onboard with it. What matters now, though, is finding out what happened and why.

It is at times like this that the human mind becomes filled with endless possibilities of how one of the greatest aviation mysteries of recent decades came about.

Was it pilot error? Was it engine failure? Was it a terrorist incident in which passengers and/or crew members took over the plane for their own ends? Was it pilot suicide?

Every day new theories abound. But the one piece of equipment which could hold most of (if not all of the answers) remains elusive - MH-370's black box. Currently, with any hope of survivor rescues being out of the question, the massive number of aircraft arrayed for the search can now concentrate on trying to find this crucial missing piece of the puzzle. But, as reports suggest, time is running out as the black box will become undetectable once its sonar beacon stops working in a fortnight.

If the black box is not found, then it will be down to a detailed examination of whatever wreckage can be salvaged to determine an approximate answer. Whether a more accurate answer will ever be found is another thing. I believe, therefore, that if the black box isn't found, no one will know what ultimately caused MH-370 to disappear into the depths of the Southern Ocean. All we will then have to go on is eternal conjecture combined with elements of way out there conspiracy theory.

In the end run, I hope that some clear answers can be found for the families of those who lost loved ones on the night and early morning of March 1 and 2 through an international inquiry. What is more important, though, is that the inquiry has some strong and credible evidence to work from in reaching its conclusions - and that's why finding the black box will be absolutely crucial to solving the most puzzling aviation disaster in history.

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