What if searchers never find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?

(CNN) – It’s been more than three weeks, and still no trace of Malaysia Airlines flight 370. So, what if searchers never find it?

As searchers race to find any wreckage of flight 370, the cost of not finding the plane could impact the future of flights. Accidents equal safety and security improvements.

In 1983, a fire broke out in a lavatory on Air Canada flight 797. The plane landed, but 23 people onboard died.
After that, smoke detectors and automatic fire extinguishers were mandated in aircraft lavatories.

In 1996, hazardous cargo on Valujet Flight 592 caught fire. The plane crashed in the Florida everglades. 110 people died. It led to new cargo hold safety rules, but not finding flight 370 or its data recorders could be a missed opportunity for change.

“Whatever brought down that flight, whether it was fire, hijack, pilot suicide, explosive decompression, a bomb – whatever…it’s important to find that out so that we can fix it so it doesn’t happen again.” Aviation Safety Expert Jeff Price told CNN.

And it’s security, too. The September 11th hijackings led to strengthened cockpit doors, the shoe bomber led to shoe checks.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had a history of sort of graveyard policy making. You wait until enough people die and then you make a change.” said Price.

With so few crashes in recent years, the Federal Aviation Administration is more proactive in finding problems that could cause crashes before they happen. Now with Malaysian Airlines flight 370 there could be lessons to be learned, but only if they find out what went wrong.

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