MH370’s Beacon of Hope

Whatever the past frustrations (and possibly even bigger disappointments yet to come) in the search for MH370, the bigger and much more significant story of the search is what has gone right. The search has powerfully demonstrated how response to human tragedy can reinforce people's impulse to cooperate rather than confront.

MELBOURNE – The harrowing mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people aboard, may be at least partly resolved within a matter of days. Underwater search vehicles are homing in on an area just a few kilometers wide in the vastness of the southern Indian Ocean, some 2,000 kilometers northwest of Perth.

This is where the Boeing 777-200 is likely to have run out of fuel and crashed, according to the analysis by the UK company Inmarsat and British aviation experts of hourly signals sent automatically from the aircraft to Inmarsat’s orbiting space vehicle. More promising still, it is where signals, assumed to have come from the locator beacons attached to the aircraft’s “black box” flight recorders, were picked up on April 5 and over the following days by an American “pinger locator” being towed by an Australian navy vessel, the Ocean Shield.

The Australian defense authorities now coordinating the search still say that to discover wreckage probably lying 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) deep, on so remote a seabed, will be like “finding a needle in a haystack.” And any subsequent recovery operation will obviously still be a huge challenge. But officials are confident that they have at least found the haystack.

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