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Malaysia Airlines Flight Debris Likely Found, Many Months Later

By Peter Clarke, JD on May 17, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

We often take for granted the amazing capabilities, power, and reliability of technology. For example, without giving it much thought, we often put ourselves in high-tech cylinders that take us many thousands of feet into the air, propel us through the sky at hundreds of miles per hour, and safely land us in destinations all over the world.

But, unfortunately, technology is not perfect. We were reminded of this fact in March 2014 when Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing and then could not be found in the ensuing months, notwithstanding unprecedented technological search efforts.

And now, more than two years after the flight disappeared, Malaysian and Australian authorities report that two pieces of aircraft debris located a couple months ago on beaches in South Africa and Mauritius "almost certainly" are from MH370, according to BBC News.

MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur and was bound for Beijing. There were 239 people on the plane. The plane vanished en route, and it was assumed to have plummeted into the ocean after straying off course.

Three different ships have searched a 120,000 square kilometer area of the southern part of the Indian Ocean. But that search has not yielded any sign of the missing aircraft.

BBC News reports that overall five pieces of debris have been confirmed as "definitely or probably" from MH370. Each of these debris pieces was located thousands of miles from the aforementioned search zone. Yet, each was deemed within area models of where ocean currents could cause the debris to be deposited.

These pieces of debris have been found from July 2015 through March 2016 (all long after the plane disappeared) on Reunion Island, Mozambique, South Africa and Mauritius.

Apparently, the continuing underwater search relating to MH370 could cease very soon. And based simply on the debris found so far, without the black boxes and the primary body of the plane, it may never be determined why the aircraft crashed into the sea. This provides little solace to family members of those who lost their lives on this flight. Moreover, the dearth of information on the cause of the crash adds fuel to those who suspect terrorism.

Fortunately, technology usually works very well. Despite the occasional aviation accident, air travel still is considered the safest form of transportation on a per mile traveled basis. Nevertheless, MH370 provides a stark reminder that there can be terrible technological failures, whether the fault of the technology itself or caused in whole or in part by human intervention.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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