Search and rescue officials in Australia are confident they
know the approximate position of the black box recorders from
missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, Australian Prime
Minister Tony Abbott says.
At the same time, however, the head of the agency
coordinating the search said that the latest "ping" signal,
which was captured by a listening device buoy yesterday, was
not related to the plane.
"We are confident that we know the position of the black box
flight recorder to within some kilometres (miles)," Abbott
said in a speech in the Chinese commercial capital Shanghai.
"Still, confidence in the approximate position of the black
box is not the same as recovering wreckage from almost four
and a half kilometres beneath the sea or finally determining
all that happened on the flight."
The mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which
disappeared more than a month ago, has sparked the most
expensive search and rescue operation in aviation history.
The search was focusing on a small patch of the Indian Ocean
on Friday, after the latest "ping" seemed to lend credence to
four previous "pings" detected by a U.S. Navy "Towed Pinger
Locator" (TPL) towed by Australia's Ocean Shield vessel.
All five acoustic signals were detected in this small area.
But Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency supervising
the search effort, said on Friday that analysis of acoustic
data confirmed that the latest signal was unlikely to be
related to the missing plane's black boxes.
"On the information I have available to me, there has been no
major breakthrough in the search for MH370. I will provide a
further update if, and when, further information becomes
available," he said in a statement.
The black boxes record cockpit data and may provide answers
about what happened to the plane, which was carrying 227
passengers and 12 crew when it vanished on March 8 and flew
thousands of kilometres off its Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing
BATTERIES FADING AS SEARCH CLOSES IN
Search efforts are now focused on three areas.
Aircraft and ships are combing two large search zones, some
2390 km northwest of Perth, for possible floating debris
related to the crash.
But it is the much smaller search zone, just 600 sq km,
located about 1670 km northwest of Perth that has generated
The smaller zone is near where the Ocean Shield picked up the
acoustic signals and where dozens of sonobuoys capable of
transmitting data to search aircraft via radio signals were
dropped on Wednesday.
The batteries in the black boxes have already reached the end
of their 30-day expected life, making efforts to swiftly
locate them on the murky ocean floor all the more critical,
"We are now getting to the stage where the signal from what
we are very confident is the black box is starting to fade
and we are hoping to get as much information as we can before
the signal finally expires," he said.
But experts say the process of teasing out the signals from
the cacophony of background noise in the sea is a slow and
An autonomous underwater vehicle named Bluefin-21 is onboard
the Ocean Shield and could be deployed to look for wreckage
on the sea floor once a final search area has been