: Just where did Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 vanish into?
Exactly two years ago today, the Boeing 777-200ER disappeared from the radar while enroute to Beijing from the KL International Airport with 239 passengers and crew onboard.
Today, the mysterious vanishing of the jetliner has baffled experts in the international aviation industry rivalling that of the legendary pilot, Amelia Earhart in 1937.
After two years of exhaustive searching, from nearly 3,000 components in the aircraft, only its flaperon was found on the island of La Reunion, a small part of France in the Indian Ocean on July 29, last year and later confirmed by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak
on Aug 6.
Other pieces found in southern Thailand
on Jan 23 did not commensurate with that of a Boeing 777 or Flight MH370.
No direct clue or whereabouts of the passengers and crew, luggage or even a life jacket that should have floated. There was yet another poser. Has the search team been looking in the right location or did it go off-tangent from the beginning?
Will the fate of Flight MH370 mirror that of Air France Flight 447? The French jetliner crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil on June 1, 2009 while enroute from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, killing all 228 passengers and crew.
However, the aircraft was found only two years later!
At press time, the investigation team is in the process of examining some fragments found on the banks of a sand beach in Mozambique
to determine whether it is linked to Flight MH370.
If confirmed to be from Flight MH370, the debris would only be the second shred of physical evidence in one of aviation's greatest unsolved mysteries. READ: Second plane debris found in Reunion Island may be MH370 - Transport Ministry
Commenting on this possibility, local pilot, Wan Arief Imran Wan M Razali told Bernama
it was hoped the find would shed some light in the Malaysian jetliner's location and revise the search area if needed.
Martin Dolan, head of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, has been reported as saying that without any new lead and fresh clues, the hunt should end in June, approximately three months from now when four ships – Go Phoenix, Fugro Equator, Fugro Discovery and Fugro Supporter – are due to finish combing the seas off western Australia.
Responding to such a scenario, Prof Dr Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian, head of research and innovation at Universiti Kuala Lumpur, said that should not signal the end of the search operation which has cost almost RM300 million.
"The search team will try to regroup and review theories pertaining to the cause of the crash. Later on, they will try to make assumptions of which area they should be looking for in order to locate the aircraft.
"They will also evaluate the effectiveness of the mapping process and whether new methodology should be introduced to enhance and add more precision and accuracy to the said process.
"In my view, the search must be continued because there are a few avenues and ways that can be used. For example, the restructuring process image from two dimension data acoustics can be improved so that objects monitored on the ocean floor can be traced clearly," he said.
Dr Mohd Harridon said if it was true the hunt would be halted, Malaysia could open tender to companies and organisations to continue the hunt.
Academic organisations such as universities, for example, have experts in several fields and can be mobilised to reinforce the search process, he said.
However, another aviation expert, Captain (R) Abdul Rahmat Omar Tun Mohd Haniff is on a different page. He feels this should be the end of the journey in looking and searching for Flight MH370.
"In fact, more than 80 commercial aircraft have been lost since 60 years ago and still not located. There is no other choice for the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) and Malaysia except to learn from this tragedy, and prevent it from recurring. In fact, steps have been taken to improve existing procedures," said the former Royal Malaysian Air Force officer.
Dolan (Australian Transport Safety Bureau) reportedly said if there was no fresh clue and lead during the search using the autopilot theory, investigators would come back to the 'a rogue pilot deliberately downed the plane' theory.
According to the theory, someone at Flight MH370's controls might have flown the jetliner for up to a hundred miles once the fuel ran out, well beyond the current search zone.
The rogue pilot theory also included the possibility that a third individual took control of the flight but it would not change the route that officials believe the plane took, which is backed up by satellite and radar data.
Commenting on that perspective, Dr Mohd Harridon said it was reasonable for investigators to use other theories, including the roque pilot theory if that theory could give a clear picture of the current situation.
"For now, we consider that the plane was in the automatic mode during the crash, thus we made mathematical arrangements that this plane was in the range of the southern Indian Ocean.
"If we adopt another theory, like the theory of rogue pilot, we will create another mathematical calculation that should highlight other areas to look for," he said.
Dr Mohd Harridon said, in addition to these two theories, investigators might try to look for the remote theory control airplane where the plane was controlled from the outside and, therefore, they needed to make new mathematical calculation arrangements to trace the speed and possible whereabouts of the plane.
Responding to the same perspective, Abdul Rahmat Omar said there was a possibility that investigators had their own theories and could only make assumptions without any form of evidence.
Two-year limitation period under the Montreal Convention, which in the case of Flight MH370 ends on March 8, 2016.
And, guess what? According to MAS, at press time, only less than 60 compensation claims had been settled in relation to the 227 passengers and 12 crew on board the flight, whereas to date, 169 families had commenced final compensation process. READ: Families advised to file claims under Montreal Convention before March 8
MAS, in an email to Bernama
, said the company remained committed to continue engaging the next-of-kin (NOK) in good faith with regard to ensuring a fair and equitable compensation.
"MAS has insurance coverage in place to meet its obligation to pay compensation to the NOK as per its obligations under applicable international conventions and law," it said.
As some of the relatives of the passengers and crew have already collected compensation, it was reported that others have been struggling with the legal and emotional complexities
surrounding the mysterious loss of Malaysia's national jetliner.
When the deadline passes, they cannot file anymore claims and will not be entertained.
According to Article 35 of the 1999 Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (Montreal Convention), the right to damages against MAS shall be extinguished if an action is not brought within a period of two years from the date on which the aircraft ought to have arrived in Beijing, on March 8.