On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing. Poof.
It’s been over two weeks, and authorities still don’t know much about what happened to the 239 passengers and crew members or the 209 feet, 656,000 pound Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.
TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-NINE. How do 239 people just go missing in a massive commercial airliner? Or of equal importance, how can we prevent this from happening in the future?
If the 239 passengers aboard that plane had been equipped with this one $20 device, they may have been safely in the arms of their loved ones by now. That device is the LuminAID, an inflatable, waterproof, solar-powered light. The founders of the LuminAID, Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta, were looking for a way to help in natural disaster relief situations after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 when they found a need, an engineering problem that they could help solve. After natural disasters, people send food, water, and even medical supplies, but even then, they are (literally) left in the dark. Because of this, kidnappings and rapes occur with a higher frequency amidst this darkness–an even greater reason to solve this problem.
Stork and Sreshta created a device with disaster relief in mind, so 50 LuminAIDs can fit into the same size box as a conventional 8 flashlights. Without a doubt, this light be used in future disaster situations, as it is portable, solar-powered, and waterproof.
How Does This Apply to Malaysia Flight 370?
Yesterday, it was announced that Chinese satellites had spotted a 74 feet by 43 feet object in the southern Indian Ocean, which officials believe may be linked to the missing aircraft. Remember that the plane went missing 43 seconds after 1:20am on March 8. There are 2 options at this point:
A) the plane could have crashed/landed elsewhere such that there were survivors
B) the plane could have crashed/landed elsewhere such that there were no survivors
1) the plane could have crashed/landed such that parts of the plane would be relatively large
2) the plane could have crashed/landed with small plane fragments remaining or could have burned such that few pieces remain
In case B2, authorities can’t do much. In cases A1, A2, or B1, though, the story could have radically changed if LuminAID was involved.
Imagine if 239 people were floating in the ocean with lights illuminated during the night sky. If each person (or LuminAID in the case B1) took up 13.3 cubic feet in the water, they would cover the same amount of space as the object spotted by China in the broad daylight. Seems pretty hard to ignore to me.
Maybe this idea isn’t just for post-tragedies. Maybe the LuminAID is a pre-tragedy device. Maybe LuminAID and inventions like it can stop (or at the least) minimize tragedies and mysteries like the Malaysian flight. Maybe next time you’re on an airplane that will be covering water, you’ll have an inflatable life vest with a solar-powered light that can last for up to 16 hours.
What are your thoughts on the Malaysia airplane mystery? How can we aim to prevent this in the future?