While experts remain hopeful Flight 370 will still be found, the possibility that it has simply vanished is rearing its ugly head, and the AP poses a troubling question: What if the plane is never found? For one thing, it wouldn't be the first time. For another, it would mean an agony of non-answers for the families of those aboard the missing jet. "In any kind of death, the most important matter for relatives and loved ones is knowing the context and circumstances," New Zealand's Victim Support group chief executive says. "When there's very little information, it's very difficult." But that's just the beginning.
We could see a push for modern GPS systems in planes and airports—as opposed to antiquated radar—as well as improved monitoring between countries, the AP notes. But the $70 billion to $80 billion price tag in the US alone is a big reason that hasn't happened already. Meanwhile, liability issues would become impossible to resolve without wreckage to determine who bears responsibility. "The international aviation legal system does not anticipate the complete disappearance of an aircraft," says a law professor, adding, ""We just don't have the tools for that at present." Either way, our perceptions have been shaken. "We had the illusion of control and it's just been shown to us that oh, folks, you know what? A really big airliner can just vanish. And nobody wants to hear that," says a former aviation accident investigator. "We're scared by it."