The Malaysian Insider
April 10, 2014
Investigators searching for missing flight MH370 are adopting a cautious stance despite the discovery of more pulse signals in the Indian Ocean over the weekend and yesterday, a sign that the task ahead remains an arduous undertaking.
Simon Boxall, lecturer in ocean and earth science at the University of Southampton, said any confirmation that the signal comes from the Boeing 777-200ER’s locator beacon would mean “the possibility of recovering the plane – or at least the black boxes – goes from being one in a million to almost certain,” CNN reported.
However, Angus Houston, who heads the rescue effort, warned against expecting a quick resolution.
“It could take some days before the information is available to establish whether these detections can be confirmed as being from MH370.
“In very deep oceanic water, nothing happens fast,” CNN quoted the retired Australian Air chief marshal who is chief coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre as saying.
The Australian naval ship Ocean Shield – a hand-me-down from Norway’s oil and gas industry – equipped with high-tech US equipment had detected signals along the suspected flight path of the airliner off the country’s western coast.
Houston had told reporters that a device called a towed pinger locator being pulled by the vessel Shield detected signals similar to those emitted by flight data and cockpit voice recorders.
The first detection, which occurred over the weekend, lasted more than two hours before the ship lost contact, Houston said. A second detection several hours later lasted 13 minutes, and included two separate signals audible to the locator device, he said.
Ocean Shield again picked up two more signals yesterday in the southern Indian Ocean.
“It’s probably the best information that we have had,” CNN quoted Houston, who added that, “We haven’t found the aircraft yet; we need further confirmation.”
Investigators are hopeful that the signals are from the missing plane’s black box and flight data recorder as they were near the standard 37.5 kHz frequency used by the recorders, a frequency chosen to limit the possibility that it would be confused with other ocean noises.
They were detected along the missing plane’s estimated flight path, which was calculated based on its direction and fuel capacity and which has helped narrow the search area, the CNN report said.
“With the acoustic events that we’re getting in the area, we are encouraged that we’re very close to where we need to be,” Houston said. “This is quite an extraordinary set of circumstances that we’re now in a very well-defined search area, which hopefully will eventually yield the information that we need to say MH370 might have entered the water just here.”
On Saturday, a Chinese ship reported that it detected a single pulse signal more than 300 miles farther south, also near the most recently projected flight path.
Houston, however, had warned that it was important to have visual confirmation before any conclusions could be made.
“I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370,” he had said at a press conference yesterday.
For now, the pulse signals are the most promising leads, said Houston.
“Hopefully with lots of transmissions we’ll have a tight, small area and hopefully in a matter of days we’ll be able to find something on the bottom that might confirm that this is the last resting place of MH370,” he added. – April 10, 2014.