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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Airlines ignore glaring 777 safety hazards

have boarded 51 flights in my lifetime. This summer when I fly home to India, it will be my 52nd. What will be different about this one is that I fly in a Boeing 777 only weeks after the Malaysian triple seven vanished in the South Indian Ocean. I would be lying if I said I won’t have second thoughts about MH370 at the time of my boarding. 

  It could easily be termed heart-wrenching for the families of the MH370 passengers.

    Malaysian transportation minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Saturday, “Even hoping against hope, no matter how remote, of course we are praying and we are continuing our search for possible survivors, this after the Malaysian Prime Minister announced to expect no survivors earlier last week.” 

    I will make no attempts at adding a few more theories to the already huge pile of speculation theories of what caused the plane to disappear. Was it terrorism, mechanical failure or pilot sabotage/suicide, etc.? 

   Every individual who travels internationally must have flown a 777. They are very common and used in abundance in the aviation industry, if there are questions raised about mechanical failures, will the entire fleet of 777s be grounded until further investigation? 

   Qantas, which is regarded as the world’s safest airline with a terrific safety record, grounded its entire fleet of Airbus A380s when one of the engines exploded mid-air. Until Rolls Royce, the engine manufacturer, and Airbus proved that the A380s were safe to fly, Qantas did not fly a single A380. There have been many other instances when investigators were given a deadline to work until a certain aircraft was verified as safe and type of flight became operational, why hasn’t such a call been taken in the MH370 case? Is this an exception? 

  Aren’t millions of passengers around the world weary and at risk if the thing that brought down MH370 is in fact a mechanical glitch? 

    In a March 11 report in The Telegraph, David Millward describes the concerns surrounding recent safety issues in the 777s. 

  “American transport officials warned of a potential weak spot in Boeing 777s which could lead to the “loss of structural integrity of the aircraft” four months before the disappearance of Malaysia airlines Flight MH370 … In its directive the FAA … told airlines to look out for corrosion under the fuselage skin … this, the FAA said, could lead to a situation where the fuselage was compromised leading to possible rapid decompression as well as the plane breaking up,” Willard said. 

  This report is alarming and should be closely examined once the investigation moves forward.

   Earlier, Malaysian Airlines authorities had denied any talks of grounding the 777 fleet. Boeing did send a team to Malaysia to investigate. 

  Andrew Herdman, director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, told CNBC suspicions of critical failure typically ground models until further confirmation of safety. 

    “If you get a suspicion it’s a design flaw or a component failure and could cause a failure of the same component in the same type of plane, then an airline may decide to stop flying the affected model,” Herdman said.

    The lack of clarity amd prevading darkness in the MH370 case is daunting. We need answers, but it is tough on those who are working to get them. A raw video on YouTube showed how difficult the search process is in the middle of the Indian Ocean with inclement weather playing a huge role. The U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon has also joined the rescue operation, and Business Insider reports it is an incredibly impressive plane. 

   We, in the media, get excited and flash breaking news as soon as reports of new debris locations are released by different government bodies. From South China Sea, to the Philippine coast and now in the southern Indian Ocean, there is news of possible debris found every day — new images, new satellite reports.

     For a moment, let us think about the families who have suffered the loss of close ones in the crash. One day they are told via text message not to expect survivors, then that they were looking for survivors.

   This could have been handled better. There was never closure and never will be for these families.

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Airlines ignore glaring 777 safety hazards