Article by: Akshay Sharathchandra
Photographs compiled by: Jinny Park
On the morning of December 28, 2014, people all over the world were shocked to learn that another commercial airplane had mysteriously disappeared. This aircraft was none other than AirAsia flight QZ 8501, carrying 162 passengers destined to travel from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore earlier that morning. A mere 15 minutes after takeoff, the flight lost contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) representatives. The pilot had requested to bring the plane higher to avoid bad weather but did not receive confirmation from the ATC. Within an hour of losing contact with ATC, the flight was declared missing, causing it to dominate headlines all over the world.
As of January 7, the plane’s main cabin has still not been found although the crash has been identified in the Java Sea, off the coast of Borneo. Debris were first spotted by Indonesian authorities on December 30, who later confirmed that they were indeed from the aircraft. Authorities fear that there are no survivors. Latest reports claim that the engines of the plane may have accumulated some ice, which caused it to stall.
Sophomore Jessica Zhang admits that she is presently concerned about flying as this is the third major commercial aviation accident to occur in 2014, the first two being Malaysian Airlines flights MH370 and MH17. (The former was also declared missing, while the latter was shot down by a Ukrainian missile.) “I am worried especially because a lot of the airplanes still do not have the real-time tracking system,” she adds. She concludes that she will “definitely” not be riding an Airbus A320-216, the aircraft used for flight QZ 8501, or “any Malaysian airline in the future.”
On the other hand, sophomore Lukas Fietcher claims, “I still feel comfortable when flying as I feel that there is a very small chance that an event like that will happen to me.” Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have seen that over 3 million people board planes every day. “Based on the accident rates of commercial aircraft in the past few years, a passenger could fly every day for over 100,000 years, and still be safe,” according to Dr. Arnold Barnett of MIT. “Worldwide, safety has improved dramatically over the last 20 years for commercial air transport even with the dramatic rise in the number of flights,” the study states.
Although the aviation disasters of 2014 made major headlines throughout the world, it is important to note that these are extremely rare occurrences. Now that 2015 has begun, we could only hope that the world looks to further prevent such disasters.