KUALA LUMPUR: Even if searchers are able to miraculously pluck Malaysia Airlines flight MH370’s “black box” from the depths of the vast Indian Ocean, experts say it may not solve one of aviation’s greatest mysteries.
Planes, ships and state-of-the-art tracking equipment are hunting for any trace of the passenger jet, which Malaysia said crashed in the forbidding waters after veering far from its intended course.
They face a huge challenge locating the Boeing 777’s “black box”, which holds vital clues to determining what caused the plane to vanish.
But experts believe the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder may not yield answers on the riddle of how and why the plane diverted an hour into the flight, and embarked on a baffling journey to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.
The data recorder details the aircraft’s path and other mechanical information for the flight’s duration, and “should provide a wealth of information”, US-based aviation consultancy firm Leeham Co said in a commentary.
But the cockpit voice recorder – which could reveal what decisions were made by those at the helm and why – retains only the last two hours of conversations before the plane’s demise.
That means potentially crucial exchanges surrounding the initial diversion, which took place halfway between Malaysia and Vietnam, will be lost.
“Clearly, it won’t reveal anything that happened over the Gulf of Thailand – this will have been overwritten by the end of MH370,” it said.
British aviation expert Chris Yates said that even if the black boxes are found, “it seems unlikely that we will get that answer” of why the plane ended up thousands of kilometres off course.
“We still have no idea as to the mental state of the pilot and co-pilot, we have no idea if somebody managed to get into the cockpit to seize the aircraft, and we’ve certainly had no admissions of responsibility since this whole episode started,” he told BBC television.
Paul Yap, an aviation lecturer at Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic, said: “With the new satellite data, I think we can say it is a chessboard,” he said of the wide search area. — AFP