One Year Later: The Disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
VOICE370: The MH370 Family Support Group — "One year has lapsed since flight MH370 disappeared."
On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370), a Boeing 777-200-ER, departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia en route to Beijing Capital International Airport in China. Shortly after takeoff the airplane disappeared. Almost a year later, all 227 passengers and 12 crew members who were on board remain missing.
Voice370 is comprised of the wives, husbands, children, parents and other close relatives of the missing passengers and crew. We formed Voice370 to speak out on behalf of our missing family members; to do everything in our collective power to ensure that the airplane and our loved ones are found; and to help prevent other families from suffering such tragedies in the future.
Soon we will endure the first anniversary of MH370’s disappearance. Somehow, despite the passage of so much time, it is unlikely that we will know anything more on the anniversary about the final moments of the flight — nor of our family members’ whereabouts — than we did almost a year ago. The situation is horrifically unprecedented. The search efforts have been futile; not a single piece of wreckage from the airplane has been found.
Despite this complete lack of wreckage found or physical evidence of a catastrophic event, the Malaysian government has officially declared that the airplane crashed, leaving no survivors, and it has ended the rescue phase of the search effort. We do not accept this finding and we will not give up hope until we have definitive proof of what happened to MH370.
The news that MH370 had gone missing was devastating to hear, not only for our families, but for caring people the world over. Over the following days, weeks and months, our families were subjected to a disorganized barrage of information from varied sources, much of which later proved to be incorrect. This included when the airplane’s transponder and ACARS (Aircraft Communications and Reporting System) stopped sending data in relation to the crew’s last recorded radio call, what was said in the last radio call, what items were stored in the airplane’s cargo bay, and other critical details. We were initially told that the airplane went either on a northern route, which would bring it over land and possible landing sites, or a southern route, but the possibility of a northern route was quickly abandoned. Since then, the entire search effort has been focused on a relatively small area of the southern Indian Ocean, a search area that was determined by a never-before-employed analysis of automatic communications between the airplane and a communications satellite. The determination of this area as the only place to search remains questionable.
The Malaysian government abandoned hope of finding our loved ones alive early in the search effort. On March 24, 2014, less than just three weeks after the airplane went missing, the government told us and the world that MH370 had crashed into the southern Indian Ocean and there was no hope of survivors. While this announcement, which some of us received only by text message, was emotionally devastating, more importantly it was simply unacceptable. It was much too early to make such a determination, especially given the mistakes, miscalculations, misinformation and lack of crash evidence associated with this search at that time.
On January 29, 2015, in an announcement that came with no advance information and little warning to the MH370 families, the Malaysian government declared that the airplane was lost, called off the rescue effort and officially told us that our loved ones had been killed in a crash. We do not accept this proclamation and will not give up hope until we have definitive proof of a crash and a determination of location — even if it is just one piece of the wreckage.
We are also concerned the January 29th announcement was the first step toward the government calling the search effort off completely. The underwater search of the area of the southern Indian Ocean, into which the authorities believe the airplane crashed, is scheduled for completion in May 2015. The majority of that area has already been searched with no findings. The search must continue and all options explored if nothing is found in the coming weeks. Finding MH370 is important not only for humanitarian reasons, but also to discover what caused the airplane to disappear. We do not want other families to go through what we have suffered this past year and finding out what happened to MH370 is critical to aviation safety and security.
Finding MH370 is important not only for humanitarian reasons, but also to discover what caused the airplane to disappear.
It is clear that Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government want to put MH370 behind them. The airline is taking significant and obvious steps to rebrand itself to rebound from this horrific episode. That said, despite the unfortunate way we have been treated, we do not bear the airline or its employees any ill will for the future. We have been told, however, that the Malaysian government’s announcement that our loved ones were killed will serve to help us move forward with compensation and with our lives. This suggestion that we must accept the premise that our loved ones are dead is inconceivable to us and cruel. We will not be able to move forward with our lives until we find them or, at the very least, discover what happened to them on that fateful March day.
Neither Malaysia Airlines nor its insurer has offered settlements to the families other than a $50,000 advance per family. They have told us we will need to prove our losses in accordance with whatever the law in our home countries requires Malaysia Airlines to pay. This plan, however, is in stark contrast to how we understand other families have been treated in recent accidents, including, for example, the TransAsia Flight 222 crash for which the airline has reportedly offered each family approximately $500,000 and has not required the affected families to go through the painful steps of proving their emotional and financial losses as the investigation unfolds.
We call on the Malaysian government to unequivocally commit that the search effort will continue until the airplane and our family members are found. We ask Malaysia Airlines and its insurer to treat us fairly, to not require us to initiate the painful process of obtaining death certificates in order to discuss compensation, and to consider the benefits to not only us, but the future of the airline, if we are treated with compassion.
We sincerely thank the many nations who have contributed to the search, the individuals who have dedicated themselves to finding the airplane and the countless people around the world who have expressed their good wishes and sympathies as we endure this tragic circumstance.
Photo Credit: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER plane, Riyad Filza