The obsession with the last six words from the MH370 plane...

The obsession with the last six words from the MH370 plane...

 According to Bloomberg, the message appeared less than an hour after the plane took off on its night flight from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Beijing (China) on March 8, 2014. Minutes later, MH370 disappeared from air traffic control radar screens.

Somehow, the massive Boeing Co. 777 became invisible in the night sky. There were 239 people on board.

Search operations were conducted, even in some of the deepest parts of the southern Indian Ocean, but no trace of the plane's fuselage, passengers, or crew was found.

No emergency calls, no debris, and no signals of its flight path – MH370 remains the greatest mystery in modern aviation to this day.

MH370 disappeared with 239 people on board. Photo: Bloomberg

Although investigators have little information to continue deciphering the MH370 mystery, they understand one thing clearly: an aircraft must never be allowed to disappear like this again.

However, ten years have passed, and the industry's efforts to prevent a similar incident have been hampered by many issues, including financial pressures and conflicts over who has the right to absolute cockpit control.

A few weeks after the disaster, the Malaysian government proposed a crucial aircraft tracking tool, but it has yet to be implemented.

Currently, there is still a significant gap in aviation safety procedures, meaning a civilian plane crashing in a remote area could remain hidden there forever.

As search teams vainly scoured for MH370, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) called for the implementation of an "additional safety layer" for civil aviation, requiring planes to report their position at least once a minute if an emergency arises.

The purpose of this proposal is to provide early warnings of a potential disaster. If a plane crashes afterward, rescue teams would at least have a chance to determine the crash location.

MH370 is the greatest mystery in modern aviation. Photo: Reuters

However, things have not gone smoothly. Scheduled for implementation in January 2021, the regulation has been postponed to January 2025.

Bloomberg asked dozens of major airlines across the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Asia to find out how many planes in their fleets were equipped with location reporting devices for emergencies. The airlines that responded had a common answer: Very few.

Air France, with more than 250 planes as of September 2023, reported that only seven of them comply with ICAO's regulations. The ratios at Korean Air and Japan Airlines were 159-3 and 226-2, respectively.

Another noteworthy issue with ICAO's regulation is that the location-reporting devices only need to be installed on new planes. This means thousands of planes will operate for decades, carrying millions of passengers worldwide without deploying the technology deemed particularly crucial after the MH370 disaster.

Technological barriers contribute somewhat to the aforementioned delay. When the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board recommended installing tracking systems on planes in 2015, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – considered a global leader in civil aviation – opposed it.

The FAA argued that the recommendation could not be implemented without sacrificing pilots' control over all systems – a cornerstone of aviation safety protocols since pilots must have the final say over the aircraft in an emergency.

Scientists succeeded in preliminarily mapping MH370's route by studying its hourly connections with a satellite 36,000 km away from Earth. While an admirable achievement, this "detective" work only pinpointed a vast potential impact zone. An international search team surveyed 710,000 square kilometers of the seabed before the search was halted in 2017. The next effort, undertaken by the American ocean exploration company Ocean Infinity in 2018, also ended in failure.

Joe Hattley, an expert and member of the international investigation team in Malaysia after MH370 disappeared, said this mystery haunts him even after ten years.

"I think about MH370 every day. As an accident investigator, part of your job is to answer questions, provide answers to the victims' families, friends, and loved ones. We haven't done that yet," he expressed.

Relatives of the victims attend a memorial for the 10th anniversary of MH370's disappearance in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, on March 3. Photo: Reuters

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