Any commercial airline accident is worrisome and temporarily undermines the public's trust in flying. But when the cause of a commercial airline accident remains unsolved and/or its wreckage cannot be found, the feeling of unease and grief is typically greater than it would otherwise be.
Families of lost victims cannot fully grieve, because without finding a body, they may be holding out some sliver of hope that their loved one is still alive. Airlines and aviation regulators cannot learn from the accident and use that knowledge to prevent similar accidents in the future.
A recent article in Popular Mechanics notes that there have been several commercial airline accidents in the past three years that either remain unsolved or have facts which are in dispute. In some cases, such as the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 case, no wreckage has been found despite an expensive search effort shared by three nations.
Other crashes, however, remain in dispute due to political squabbles and uncertainty about terrorism. In October 2015, a Metrojet A321 exploded over the Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 people. An ISIS group took credit for blowing up the plane, but there are still disputes about whether the plane was brought down by a bomb or by an act of sabotage.
Last May, Egyptair Flight 804 crashed in the Mediterranean. Although the bodies of victims were recovered, Egyptian and French investigators are still making contradictory statements and attempting to blame the crash on one another. It remains unsolved at this time.
Not being able to find wreckage is bad enough. But failing to identify the cause of a plane crash due to political squabbling is simply unacceptable. Thankfully, the United States and other Western countries can usually set politics aside when investigating crashes. A former member of the NTSB said: "The motives of some of those involved (in the probes) can leave you speechless. Most Western countries have laws designed to keep politics out of air crash investigations. But that is not the case in much of the rest of the world."
Even if governmental politics are not as much of a factor in U.S. crash investigations, victims and their families can still have a difficult time getting answers. For this and other reasons, plane crash victims and their families may wish to consult with an experienced aviation accidents attorney.