International attention focusing on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has led to collective concern that the most recent occurrence could be another unsolved global mystery, similar to the officially-unsolved case involving renowned pilot Amelia Earhart. Former U.S. aviation accident investigator Ric Gillespie, who studied the 1937 disappearance of Earhart, spoke about the public’s reaction to the recent unresolved tragedy.
“When something like this happens that confounds us, we’re offended by it, and we’re scared by it. We had the illusion of control and it’s just been shown to us that oh, folks, you know what? A really big airliner can just vanish. And nobody wants to hear that,” Gillespie said.
Though many are having difficulties grappling with the revelation that a plane can disappear from the technological radar in this day-and-age, the Journal of Transportation Security‘s editor-in-chief Andrew Thomas offered some realistic insight behind the limitations involving modern-day aviation advancements. “There are lots of reasons why they haven’t changed, but the major one is cost. The next-generation technology would cost $70 to $80 billion in the U.S.,” Thomas explained.
Understanding the events that influenced the disappearance of Flight 370 represent only part of the public’s anxiety when discussing this most recent tragedy. Another part of the struggle is determining the societal recourse needed to lessen, if not prevent, future situations of a similar nature from occurring. According to Brian Havel, who is the director of DePaul University’s International Aviation Law Institute, “The international aviation legal system does not anticipate the complete disappearance of an aircraft. We just don’t have the tools for that at present.”
The 1937 disappearance of female pioneer pilot Earhart shocked the international community and led to debates and discussions regarding potential underlying factors. Conspiracy theories have persisted since the late 1930’s just like the current onslaught of conspiracy theories concerning Flight 370. While it may be falsely comforting to hope that these events are relegated to the past, present-day aviation is not immune from disastrous mysteries.
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