Over a year after its mysterious disappearance, wreckage from the missing MH370 flight may have been found — but the investigation is far from over. If anything, the possible discovery of a Boeing 777 wing has raised more questions, which are unlikely to be answered by the small amount of wreckage that has turned up so far. And though the discovery of the wing provides a glimmer of hope into finally receiving closure, the investigation is unfortunately far from over.
The discovery of the wing simply adds to the already large amount of unanswered questions surrounding the plane's disappearance. What was the missing Malaysian Air flight doing near Réunion Island, the French island near Madagascar where the wing washed up? Investigators say the wing may have been in the water for up to a year, but how did it escape detection? And where is the rest of the flight and its 239 passengers?
The possibility of finally solving the mystery that shocked the world has many excited, understandably. But in our excitement, we may be getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. If the wing is in fact from the missing flight, all it conclusively means is that the flight likely did go down over water. Either it was way off course and above the Indian Ocean when it went down, or currents pulled it south over the past year.;
But the wing doesn't tell us anything about how the plane went down, where the rest of the wreckage is, or where the victims may be, and if any survived. Although everyone on board has been listed as legally deceased, we can't help but hold out hope for a Castaway type situation.
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for plane crash investigations to get dragged out, even when there is evidence. Without the plane's black box, it's difficult for officials to decisively find the cause of the crash. And while finding some evidence of the missing MH370 is a good start, history has shown us that it doesn't mean the case is closed. In each of these three famous plane crashes, even though evidence was recovered, it took a long time for the cases to be settled, and all questions to be answered.
USAir Flight 427
In 1994, USAir Flight 427 was approaching Pittsburgh when it rolled over midair and crashed in a nearby town. All 132 people on board were killed. Investigators were able to find and recover the wreckage and black box very quickly, as they knew exactly where the crash was. But at the time, black boxes weren't as comprehensive as they are today, and didn't record all possibly pertinent information. As a result, it took almost five years for investigators to conclusively rule that the crash was caused by a malfunction in the plane's rudder.
Air France Flight 447
The story of Air France Flight 447 is heartbreaking. The French commercial airplane stalled and crashed into the ocean on June 1, 2009 while on its way home from Brazil. It took several hours for the airline to figure out that the plan was no longer on its course, and it was a few more days before the Brazilian navy recovered the wreckage and some of the 228 passengers and crew that were killed. However, the black boxes were nowhere to be found. Two years later the black boxes were recovered from the bottom of the ocean floor, and the recordings pulled off the boxes reportedly captured the pilot's last words, "Fuck, we're dead." After finding the black boxes, the investigation wrapped up quickly, citing inclement weather and pilot error as the cause of the crash.
Pan American Airways Flight 7
The mysterious crash of "Romance of The Skies," the Pan American Airways plane that went down in 1957 remains a mystery. The plane left San Francisco for Honolulu on Nov. 9, 1957, but before reaching its destination crashed into the Pacific Ocean and killed all 44 on board. One of the largest scale searches since Amelia Earhart disappeared quickly ensued, and several days later investigators found some of the wreckage and 19 of the bodies about 1,000 miles north of Honolulu. The bodies showed signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite recovering some evidence, in 1959 officials ruled that they could find no probable cause for the crash, and it remains unsolved.
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