• Wed
  • Sep 3, 2014
  • Updated: 4:32pm
Malaysia Airlines flight 370
NewsAsia
Flight MH370

Searchers seek confirmation of 'pings' heard in Malaysia Airlines plane hunt

But experts urge caution, with no link confirmed to black box of missing Malaysia Airlines plane

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 April, 2014, 3:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 7:36pm

International search planes and ships are heading to an area where a Chinese ship twice heard what could be signals from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370’s black box locators, Australian search authorities said on Sunday.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the head of the Australian agency coordinating the operation, told a media conference in Perth that two reported acoustic detections from the Haixun 01 were a good lead but there remained no certainty that they had come from the missing plane.

Aircrews from seven countries have been flying dozens of missions from Perth deep into the southern Indian Ocean looking for debris from the jet and have been joined by ships fitted with sophisticated equipment designed to pick up the locators on the black box voice and data recorders.

The Boeing 777 lost communications and disappeared from civilian radar less than an hour into an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

A Chinese patrol vessel in the southern Indian Ocean has detected a pulse signal that could be from the black box recorder of flight MH370, state media said on Saturday.

A black box detector deployed by Haixun 01 picked up a pulse signal of 37.5 kHz per second at around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude, Xinhua reported.

Australian ship Ocean Shield was also investigating a signal it detected on Sunday in its current location, about 300 nautical miles north of Haixun 01, in waters far off Australia’s west coast.

Houston said the mission was taking both detections “very seriously” as time ticked down on the beacons’ battery life, though he described the Chinese finding as the most promising.

“I think the fact that we’ve had two detections, two acoustic events in that location, provides some promise which requires a full investigation,” he said.

Chinese search planes also reported spotting white objects in the ocean.

Houston said: "White objects were sighted on the surface about 90 kilometres from the detection area.

View MH370: possible locations in a larger map

"However, there is no confirmation at this stage that the signals and the objects are related to the missing aircraft."

The underwater locator beacon on the black box of a Boeing 777 can transmit an ultrasonic pulse from as deep as 4.3 kilometres under water.

But the signal will be silenced when the battery runs out - usually after about 30 days.

As many as 13 planes and 11 ships are involved in the hunt for MH370 - which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board - in an area 1,700 kilometres northwest of Perth.

Li Jie, a researcher at the PLA Navy's Military Academy, said the detection was an important breakthrough. "Only the black box will release such a pulse signal," he said.

"If no other plane has crashed in that location then, basically, we can say that flight MH370 is located somewhere around these waters," he said.

Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo told state-run CCTV that it was highly likely the signal was from the black box of MH370.

"The area is not a major route for commercial jets and vessels, and therefore the chance that the signal is from another crashed airliner is minimal," he said.

But Australian Defence Minister David Johnston urged caution after several false leads in what has been an "emotional roller coaster" for the families of those on board the plane.

He said: "This is not the first time we've had something that has turned out to be very disappointing. There's a huge chance of a false positive here."

Watch: How does a 'black box' work?

The Chinese Maritime Rescue Centre also warned there was no confirmed link between the pulse signal and the missing plane.

Chris Yates, an aviation security consultant based in Britain, warned that the black box would now be in a "rundown state" with its battery being exhausted.

"The range of the transmission from the black box will have decreased significantly over such a period of time," he said.

"That will cast doubts on the veracity of the claimed findings."

He added that the position where the signals were detected seemed to be further north than the current search area.

In Beijing, relatives of passengers on the flight said they did not believe the pulse signal was from the plane. One said: "We should rather wait for official confirmation than listen to unconfirmed sources of information."

Another family member said: "I just hope this is not true. I won't believe it until they have found the wreckage and bodies."

Haixun 01 was one of the first batch of Chinese vessels sent to help in the search for MH370.

It is the largest and most advanced China-produced patrol and rescue vessel and arrived in the southern Indian Ocean on March 20.

Additional reporting by Minnie Chan and Shirley Zhao

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This article is now closed to comments

nabanita.javed
Malaysia Flight MH370 and Sadalachbia - "The Lucky Star of Hidden Things" ****bit.ly/1gb2ocX
lucifer
- UPDATE - Article was renamed twice AND.........the Chinese information was ONCE AGAIN.........(drum role please..)...... BOGUS!
Surprise, surprise....I must admit it seems they have been intentionally trying to 1. beat the other search teams and take the credit and glory for a successful find and/or 2. have been intuitionally throwing off the other search teams for some unknown reason....
lib_prc

China is a separate "pole / pillar" in the new world order. This is part of her (vain) story. She will not seek to challenge the US as another major pole / pillar nor will she put up with herself being undermined. In this case, China being one of the biggest stakeholders (154 Chinese lives) is desperately fielding the biggest search fleet among all nations; nevertheless it is being treated like an outsider (no meaningful info has been shared with China other than a heavy-handed conclusion that the plane dropped in the S. Indian Ocean - China has to be very cooperative to be sending a large fleet to search there). In many ways China has no choice but to seek answers to its own questions; unfortunately we might be witnessing a lost opportunity unfolding for what can be a true paradigm for international cooperation.
aplucky1
how much do they pay you to type this garbage?
Beaker
You know why other nations are skeptical of Chinese Navy claims? 1st is because they cried wolf before on March 11th, when everyone was looking NW towards the Andamans and they claimed their satellite got a pic of a triangular "thing" south of Vietnam to distract the search. Strange, when you see the primitive hand held mic the PLA-N are using dipped off the side of a noisy ship hull about 0.4 meters into the water with noisy waves, and they can pick up a ping off the bottom of a deep ocean. Western forces use dedicated towed mics which they claim to have maybe a 1.6 km range (that is both vertical and horizontal, real distance). The reason this works better is because the mics are far away from the surface waves and the ship hull. Anyone who has played computer simulation games of sub warfare would know these little things. That is why nobody is taking China's claims seriously. My theory is that they are continuing to mis-inform as part of cooperating with the kidnappers, just like they did to throw off the real search on March 11. Somalia, dispersed, negotiating for ransom. Great discounts on luxury flats in Chinese favored cities.
sy.levine.5
China has the technology and capability to put an end to this political problem and fix the system. The US, due to the influence of the Airlines, Aircraft Manufacturers and Pilot Associations, won't fix the dark-age killing system, because of fear of liability. They have successfully lobbied to keep the flight recorder data private. This fear has kept the safety critical Digital Flight Data Recorder, DFDR, data from being used in real-time proactively to prevent crashes. Similar to the US, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) hasn’t called for or allowed the DFDR data to be used in real-time also out of the fear of liability to its members. The only hope lies with China in making the DFDR public and used in real-time to proactively prevent crashes. It would allow the world to know an aircraft’s position, velocity and heading every second. Always remember that the remote flight recorder, data streaming black box, can be used in the present autopsy mode of post-crash analysis but proactively, and more importantly, it can also be used to prevent fatal crashes (see: the web site safelander). We owe the fixing of the safety system to all those who have died in needless crashes that could have been prevented by proactively using the digital flight recorder information in real-time.
ejmciii
How about we let the people doing the searching search and stop taking a dump on the info, or extoling it beyond cavil, because it came from Chinese sources until we see what happens. If the Chinese found something, that is good. If it is nothing, so it goes.
andreaswagner
What happened to the 'seismic events'? I think my BS detector just got something:)
lamlm38
You can put back your 'BS' detector back into your pants..
jiawang@adb.org
Search should be left to Malaysian and Chinese experts.

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