Finding 'black box' must be Job One

One must conclude now that the search for the missing jetliner and its 239 passengers and crew has to center on the black box, the flight data recorder that likely is lying deep below the surface of the southern Indian Ocean.

If searchers find the recorder, they’ll be able to retrieve it and gather all the information necessary to determine what happened to Flight 370 as it left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 8.

All the theories about hijacking seem to have been discounted now. What we don’t know is why the plane turned sharply off course shortly after leaving Malaysia en route to Beijing. Nor do we know whether someone purposely took the plane far south, whether it ran out of fuel, whether the Boeing 777 dived steeply into the water or whether it glided into the water, broke apart and sank.

We don’t know what happened on the flight deck moments before communication was lost. We don’t know whether a struggle occurred or whether the two-man flight deck crew simply decided to end it all right then.

The world awaits the fate of the individuals on board, along with those they left behind.

The satellite pictures of those two objects spotted 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia don’t tell us much. They might have sunk by now, leaving searchers with no visual clues with which to work.

This, folks, is one gigantic aviation mystery.

They’ll be talking about it for many years — even after they find that flight data recorder. They’d better find it soon. The batteries are running out. When they die, the “ping” stops.

Then what?