Airline disappearance stirs international debate
Story by Adam Ebel
Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 baffled the international community when it seemingly disappeared with all 239 of its occupants.
Modern airplanes sport an array of communications and safety equipment to prevent such a disappearance.
The last message received from the copilot, “All right, good night,” indicated no emergency, nor were there any abnormal weather patterns that could cause concern.
However, military radar caught the plane veering off course briefly before losing contact, and metrics automatically relayed to central command detected a rapid drop from 35,000 feet to 12,000 feet, far below what is safe, but reasonable in case of an on board decompression.
A satellite made a final communication with the flight, gauging the distance but not the location of the flight before it cut out, providing a damningly long arc in which to search for the plane.
The communication equipment of the plane had been deliberately disabled, fueling further intrigue.
The large number of Chinese citizens on the flight has attracted the attention of Malaysia’s northern neighbor, which has criticized the nation on its lack of cooperation in the search.
Imagery from Australian, Chinese and French satellites found large amounts of debris just southwest of Australia, and just at the edge of range locations of the plane as it cut off contact.
This area has become the new focus of the search.
Twenty-six countries in total are participating in the search, sending vessels and planes to search for debris and possibly the wreck of the plane. Some students question how this is relevant to U.S. interests abroad.
“Although I respect the fact that Malaysian and Chinese governments searched through hell,” said Drake University journalism student Jamie Willer. “I wonder why the U.S. government would spend its time on this when we have more pressing issues in Syria and Ukraine.”
Unfortunately, the search for survivors is over, as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed that the plane crashed into the South Indian Ocean, far away from any possible landing zones.
“My condolences to the families involved,” said senior Jason Wood.
Using the Doppler effect on the signal from the plane and comparing it to signals from other planes, Inmarsat was able to confirm suspicions that the plane was heading down the south corridor.
At this point, the main reason to continue to search for the wreck is for answers, but we may not even find those.
China, however, has seen mass unrest from the families, who accuse the Malaysian government for what they perceive as a cover-up of the truth.
The method used to determine the corridor of the plane has never been used before, and the Najib Razak claims that the delayed announcement was for extra number crunching.
A rare and illegal street protest arose on the streets of Beijing as relatives of the lost passengers marched on the Malaysian embassy, demanding answers.
Some denounced the Chinese authorities as corrupt as well.
The Chinese government has requested the data that Inmarsat used to make its lengthy calculations.
“These sort of miscommunications happen easily in international joint operations” said first-year politics major Collin Stevens. “It can get messy.”