Whether the digits are 4U9525, MH17 or MH370, they begin as stalled flight numbers on an arrivals board seemingly crammed with information. Waiting family and friends look upwards at the board, initially with the standard airport frustration and then with confusion. Finally disbelief and dread will claim them as the horror of an airliner crash becomes very real.
Around the world highly trained investigative teams are mobilised. In the midst of human tragedy these professionals are tasked with dealing with the facts and finding out what REALLY happened. Not the speculation sought by the instantaneous media, but the facts that can go some way to avoiding a repeat of the tragedy. All the while, breaking news flashes across the bottom of TV screens and grieving families grasp at straws.
In the case of MH17, world politics came into play, while MH370 is still a mystery. One can hardly believe that tragedy could befall Malaysia Airlines twice in such a brief time-frame. And even though the loss of life was not as great, Asiana 214’s crash at San Francisco raised questions on yet another front. For Germanwings 4U9525, the pain is raw and the wreckage still littered across the mountainside. The only certainty is that when an airliner is lost, there is a headline-grabbing impact and universal grief.
We will never come to terms with the sight of twisted and burnt metal with charred personal effects scattered around the crash site. These machines which defy gravity and bring our world closer together are not meant to come to this. At these moments, the fact that air travel is so very statistically safe seems to be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers will go to those that have been lost and those that have lost. And all the while the teams will scour wreckage that others cannot bear to look upon so closely. Through blood, sweat and tears their outcomes will improve the statistics of safe air travel even further for those of us who will fly in the future.
But for now there is simply loss.
Rest in Peace 4U9525.