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

Abbotsford-desi-medicine-crime-HIV-AIDS

Abbotsford acupuncturist’s clients urged to get tested for HIV, hepatitis

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI Health authorities are urging clients of an Abbotsford acupuncturist to get tested for HIV and hepatitis after determining she failed to…
Continue Reading »

desi bride loaded in gold

Indian bride draws flak for wearing $700,000 jewellery at her wedding

CEN AGENCY An Indian sweet maker made sure his daughter was the golden girl at her upcoming wedding by covering her in gold jewellery worth…
Continue Reading »

SASKATCHEWAN

Saskatchewan premier on trade mission touts potash deals with Indian companies

CLARE CLANCY THE CANADIAN PRESS REGINA — Saskatchewan’s premier heralded two new agreements Thursday that will see increased potash exports to India. Brad Wall, who…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Abbotsford-desi-medicine-crime-HIV-AIDS

Abbotsford acupuncturist’s clients urged to get tested for HIV, hepatitis

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI Health authorities are urging clients of an Abbotsford acupuncturist to get tested for HIV and hepatitis after determining she failed to…
Continue Reading »

SASKATCHEWAN

Saskatchewan premier on trade mission touts potash deals with Indian companies

CLARE CLANCY THE CANADIAN PRESS REGINA — Saskatchewan’s premier heralded two new agreements Thursday that will see increased potash exports to India. Brad Wall, who…
Continue Reading »

up-skirt photos,abuse-lap-sitting

Lap-sitting, striking students and taking upskirt photos: B.C. teachers disciplined 46 times so far this year

DAN FUMANO VANCOUVER DESI A B.C. elementary school teacher has agreed to complete courses in anger management, following a number of written warnings over the…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

India

Honour Killing: Delhi girl killed by parents for marrying her boyfriend

HINDUSTAN TIMES Three days after marrying her boyfriend in a temple, a 21-year-old Delhi University student was murdered and secretly cremated by her parents for…
Continue Reading »

violence against women

SFU grad bringing local attention to issue of violence against women in India (w/ gallery)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI After spending more than a year researching violence against women in India as part of her U.K. Master’s degree program, Surrey’s…
Continue Reading »

MURDER-BEAUTY QUEEN

Missing Honduran beauty queen, sister found slain

IANS Tegucigalpa – Miss Honduras World 2014 and her sister, missing for nearly a week, were found dead in a village Wednesday, police said. Pageant…
Continue Reading »

Punjabi Chura

Punjab Chura: Not just pretty bangles

KIM TREHAN VANCOUVER DESI Here comes the bride… all dressed in …red.  From head to toe adorned in red is your traditional Punjabi bride. But…
Continue Reading »

india

Man isolated at New Delhi airport after traces of Ebola virus found in his semen

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW DELHI — A 26-year-old Indian man who recovered from Ebola in Liberia has been placed in isolation at the New Delhi…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 1.03.20 PMdesi

Bollywood actor Salman Khan shares sister Arpita’s wedding photos on Instagram

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood actor Salman Khan shared photos of his sister Arpita Khan’s grand wedding with businessman Aayush Sharma on Instagram. “Hav put up sm…
Continue Reading »

Ileana D'Cruz

Happy Ending: Flawed but feisty and relevant (w/trailer)

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Happy Ending”; Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Ileana D’Cruz, Govinda, Kalki Koechlin, Ranveer Shorey; Director: Raj Nidimoru/Krishna D.K.; Rating: **** Okay,…
Continue Reading »

desi sex-nude photos

Kim Kardashian’s trip to India and appearance on Bigg Boss cancelled

HINDUSTAN TIMES And IANS American reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s much-hyped maiden trip to India has been nipped in the bud, owing to visa issues….
Continue Reading »