Malaysian Airlines Flight 370: Signals from Pings Indicate Black Box Could be 14,764 Feet Underwater, Deeper than Titanic Wreck

By @ibtimesau on
A man travelling on a stolen passport on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 was a young Iranian who has no links to terrorists.
A man travelling on a stolen passport on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 was a young Iranian who has no links to terrorists. Reuters

Indications that three pings received by a Chinese and Australian vessel are from a black box are raising hopes from the international community that it would finally lead to the location of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 jet believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.

However, more difficulties lie ahead if the pings indeed are those from the ill-fated Flight 370.

Angus Houston, retired Australian Air chief marshal, estimated that based on the signals heard, it could come from a depth of 4,500 metres or 14,764 feet underwater. That would make it deeper than the sunken Titanic, which was submerged at about 12,500 feet, off the coast of Newfoundland during its maiden voyage.

Other challenges facing the search teams include confirmation if the signals are from the Boeing jet aircraft could take several days and the batteries that sends the pings are expected to run out soon as the plane's disappearance enters 30 days or about the life span of the beacons' batteries.

Another challenge is if the salvage teams would deploy the US Navy's Buefin 21 submarine, the depth will push the underwater vehicle to the limits of its capability.

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Not wanting to raise false hopes, particularly among the angry and agitated relatives of the Chinese passengers, Mr Houston cautioned, "In very deep oceanic water, nothing happens fast ... I would ask all of you to treat this information cautiously and responsibly."

He stressed, "We haven't found the aircraft yet."

At the same time, forensic audio expert Paul Ginsberg, one of the searchers, described the situation not as finding the needle in a haystack but locating first the haystack.

British naval vessel HMS Echo, equipped with advanced detection gear, sailed on Monday morning for southern Indian Ocean to help in the search effort after Chinese vessel Haixun 01 reported detecting two audio signals roughly 1,600 kilometres west-northwest of Perth, based on the coordinates provided by Chinese state media.

Echo's state-of-the-art sonar is capable of mapping the ocean floor, estimated at 4,500 metres. 

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