Flight MH370 Search: Robots from Australia, US Help Find Debris as Time Runs Out on Plane's Black Box

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By Reissa Su | March 26, 2014 1:27 PM EST

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continues after a 17-day wait for the Malaysian Prime Minister to confirm that the Boeing 777 with 239 people on board crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A family member of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cries on a bus before heading to the Malaysian embassy, outside Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 25, 2014. Bad weather and rough seas on Tuesday forced the suspension of the search for any wreckage of a missing Malaysian jetliner that officials are now sure crashed in the remote Indian Ocean with the loss of all 239 people on board. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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Searchers including aircraft from the US, Australia and New Zealand, are racing to locate the doomed Malaysia Airlines plane's black boxes before the "pings" they emit fade away. According to reports, the black boxes can send signals for at least 30 days after a plane crash.

However, experts said the black boxes can continue to emit pings for another 15 days depending on black box battery. Black boxes are commonly attached to the aircraft's fuselage and without them, it would be difficult for investigators to determine the cause of the crash.

Satellites and planes have spotted possible debris in the water but nothing has been recovered or identified as part of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

Central Queensland University accident investigation specialist Geoff Dell said if black boxes are recovered, it would probably be the "most difficult" search for a missing plane. Mr Dell said it is urgent to find even a small piece of the missing plan to help oceanographers plot its location under the seas.

Crews searching for signs of wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will be joined by a fleet of 3,600 robots that can scour the world's oceans. Marine recovery teams are racing against the clock to find the black boxes before they run out of battery.

Robots from Australia, US in search area

Experts said floating debris could quickly drift long distances in a 1.6 million square kilometre part of the ocean with turbulent waves and high winds. The international robot fleet Argo may give international searchers some idea. Argo program director Howard Freeland who is based in North Saanich, B.C., said each robot collects data on ocean currents, salinity and temperature over an area of about 300 square kilometres.

Mr Freeland, a retired scientist of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, further explained that the robots will then send the data via satellite into computer models like the BLUElink. It is a global ocean forecasting system run by three government agencies in Australia.

Most of the robots in the search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane are from the US and Australia.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon / )
A family member of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cries on a bus before heading to the Malaysian embassy, outside Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 25, 2014. Bad weather and rough seas on Tuesday forced the suspension of the search for any wreckage of a missing Malaysian jetliner that officials are now sure crashed in the remote Indian Ocean with the loss of all 239 people on board. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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