Two ships carry out hunt for missing jet’s black boxes in remote stretch of Indian Ocean

Published: April 4, 2014

NICK PERRY
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PERTH, Australia — The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet entered a new stage Friday when navy ships deployed stingray-shaped sound locators in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean, in an increasingly urgent hunt for the plane’s data recorders before their beacons fall silent.

Officials leading the multinational search for Flight 370 said there was no specific information that led to the underwater devices being used for the first time, but that they were brought into the effort because there was nothing to lose.

HMAS Toowoomba (bottom) conducting a replenishment at sea with HMAS Success (top) during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. ABIS CHRIS BEERENS/AFP/Getty Images

An arduous weeks-long hunt has not turned up a single piece of wreckage that could have led the searchers to the plane and eventually to its black boxes, which contain key information about the flight.

Beacons in the black boxes emit “pings” so they can be more easily found. The beacons’ batteries last about a month.

“No hard evidence has been found to date, so we have made the decision to search a sub-surface area on which the analysis has predicted MH370 is likely to have flown,” Cmdr. Peter Leahy, the commander of military forces involved in the search, said in a statement.

Two ships with sophisticated equipment that can hear the pings made their way Friday along a 240-kilometre (150-mile) route investigators hope may be close to the spot Flight 370 entered the water after it vanished March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

Related Stories:

The head of the joint agency co-ordinating the search acknowledged that the search area was essentially just a best guess — and noted time is running out to find the coveted data recorders.

“The locater beacon will last about a month before it ceases its transmissions — so we’re now getting pretty close to the time when it might expire,” Angus Houston said.

The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield towed a pinger locator from the U.S. Navy and the British navy’s HMS Echo, equipped with similar gear, looked for the black boxes in an area investigators’ settled on after analyzing hourly satellite pings the aircraft gave off after it disappeared.

That information, combined with data on the estimated speed and performance of the aircraft, led them to that specific stretch of ocean, Houston said.

Because the U.S. Navy’s pinger locator can pick up black box signals to a depth of 6,100 metres (20,000 feet), it should be able to hear the plane’s data recorders even if they are lying in the deepest part of the search zone — about 5,800 metres (19,000 feet) below the surface. But that’s only if the locator gets within range of the black boxes — a tough task, given the size of the search area and the fact that the pinger locator must be dragged slowly through the water at just 1 to 5 knots, or 1 to 6 miles per hour.

The type of locator being used is a 70-centimetre (30-inch) -long, cylindrical microphone that is towed underwater in a grid pattern behind a ship. It’s attached to about 6,100 metres (20,000 feet) of cable and is guided through the ocean depths by a yellow, triangular carrier with a shark fin on top. It looks like a stingray and has a wingspan of 1 metre (3 feet).

Finding floating wreckage is key to narrowing the search area, as officials can then use data on ocean currents to try and backtrack to the spot where the Boeing 777 hit the water — and where the black boxes may be. The devices would provide crucial information about what condition the plane was flying under and any communications or sounds in the cockpit.

But with no wreckage found so far, officials can’t be confident they’re looking for the black boxes in the right place, said Geoff Dell, discipline leader of accident investigation at Central Queensland University in Australia.

“They might be lucky and they might start smack bang right over the top of it,” Dell said. “But my guess is that’s not going to be the case and they’re in for a lengthy search.”

The area where crews are looking for the devices lies within a larger 217,000-square-kilometre (84,000-square-mile) search zone that 14 planes and nine ships crisscrossed Friday in the hopes of spotting debris on the ocean surface. The search zone is about 1,700 kilometres (1,100 miles) northwest of the Australian west coast city of Perth.

Fourteen aircraft and 11 ships were involved in Friday’s search activities in the greater search areas, the co-ordination agency said. Ships sighted a number of objects in the area but none were associated with the missing plane, the agency said.

The search area has shifted each day, as the investigative team continues to analyze what little radar and satellite data is available while factoring in where any debris may have drifted due to ocean currents and weather.

AT SEA – APRIL 04: An observer watches as a smoke flare is deployed to mark an unidentified object spotted from a RNZAF P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Nick Perry – Pool/Getty Images)

Australia is co-ordinating the ocean search, and the investigation into the plane’s disappearance is ultimately Malaysia’s responsibility. Australia, the U.S., Britain and China have all agreed to be “accredited representatives” of the investigation.

Four Australian investigators were in Kuala Lumpur to help with the investigation and ensure information on the aircraft’s likely flight path is fed back to search crews, Houston said.

The two countries are still working out who will be in charge of analyzing any wreckage and flight recorders that may be found.
———

 

Associated Press writers Eileen Ng and Gillian Wong in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, and Kristen Gelineau and Rohan Sullivan in Sydney contributed to this report.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

Dr Cabbie

Indo Canadian comedy Dr. Cabbie making its way to the small screen

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI This year’s Indo Canadian box-office hit comedy Dr. Cabbie is making its way to the small screen. Toronto-based Entertainment One, alongside…
Continue Reading »

desi fun food collectibles

Surrey Night Market will be ‘bigger and better’ in 2015, say organizers

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI The Surrey Night Market is set to return for its second season next spring “bigger and better” than its inaugural year,…
Continue Reading »

Surrey Food Bank-forensics

Surrey woman makes career switch from forensics to food bank

AMY REID SURREY NOW  WHALLEY — With a masters in bioethics and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, Feezah Jaffer never imagined her landing spot would…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Dr Cabbie

Indo Canadian comedy Dr. Cabbie making its way to the small screen

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI This year’s Indo Canadian box-office hit comedy Dr. Cabbie is making its way to the small screen. Toronto-based Entertainment One, alongside…
Continue Reading »

desi fun food collectibles

Surrey Night Market will be ‘bigger and better’ in 2015, say organizers

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI The Surrey Night Market is set to return for its second season next spring “bigger and better” than its inaugural year,…
Continue Reading »

Surrey Food Bank-forensics

Surrey woman makes career switch from forensics to food bank

AMY REID SURREY NOW  WHALLEY — With a masters in bioethics and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, Feezah Jaffer never imagined her landing spot would…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Avoiding relapse, inviting happiness over the Holiday Season

NIRMALA RANIGA VANCOUVER DESI The holiday season can be an especially challenging time for individuals in recovery from addictive behaviours. Holiday parties and celebrations with…
Continue Reading »

Miss World

Bikini round removed from Miss World pageant

IANS London – The Miss World contest, which has been an annual feature since 1951, will no longer feature a swimsuit round in their competition,…
Continue Reading »

sexi desi babes

Gallery: Wait for India’s Kingfisher Calendar Girl 2015 is almost over

VANCOUVER DESI The Hunt for the Kingfisher Calendar Girl 2015 is almost over. An Indian lifestyle channel will air the grand finale of the reality…
Continue Reading »

Taliban attack

Pakistani student who skipped school on the day of Taliban rampage ‘isn’t talking to anyone’

VANCOUVER DESI A 15-year-old student of Pakistan’s Army Public School  – which was bombed by the Taliban this week, killing 141 people, of which 132…
Continue Reading »

Sikhs to quit Trudeau's Liberals

Sikhs ‘across Canada’ to jump Trudeau ship

Nominations issue: ‘We are not Liberals, that’s for sure,’ says general secretary of Vancouver temple LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI A large group of Sikhs in…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Priyanka Chopra

Gallery: Stars come together for another big fat Bollywood wedding

VANCOUVER DESI After Salman Khan’s sister Arpita Khan’s wedding with businessman Aayush Sharma last month, Bollywood stars gathered for another high-profile Bollywood wedding that turned…
Continue Reading »

BOLLYWOOD

Film Review: Aamir Khan’s PK unconventionally outstanding

TROY REBEIRO IANS Film: “PK”; Cast: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Saurabh Shukla, Boman Irani, Parikshat Shahni; Director: Rajkumar Hirani; Rating: *** 1/2…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood jodis-ex lovers

Bollywood’s ex-flames Shahid Kapoor, Kareena to work together in ‘Udta Punjab’?

IANS Mumbai – Actor Shahid Kapoor, who once dated actress Kareena Kapoor, has said that he has never refused to work with the latter and…
Continue Reading »