(Breaking Update) Flight MH 370: Promising ‘Pings’
The U.S. Navy team operating the towed pinger locator (TPL) onboard the Australian defense vessel Ocean Shield reports having detected pinging signals “consistent with sounds that would come from a black box,” April 6.
The U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs:
“The TPL heard consecutive pings at one-second intervals. At the time of detection the TPL was at a depth of 300 meters, which is well above the optimal search depth where a black box would typically be detected.
Upon detection, the Ocean Shield crew turned off as much noise-producing equipment as possible to reduce the chance of false alarms, and the signal was again held for over two hours at a TPL depth of 1,400 meters. The signal strength increased and then faded, as would be expected with the ship moving toward then away from the signal.
After the signal was lost the team reeled the TPL back in to prepare for a course change to a reciprocal course to get a better line of bearing in the contact location.
While traveling on the reciprocal course, the Ocean Shield team again detected a separate set of pings while with the TPL set to an optimal depth of 3,000 meters. On this course the detection time lasted for about 15 minutes. The TPL detected two signals at the same frequency but in different locations. This would be consistent with the MH370 black box because the plane had both a flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
Since the current data remains inconclusive, the team is moving forward to reacquire the signal and use the Bluefin-21 Sidescan Sonar to get a picture of any potential wreckage. This is a 24-hour operation and the Navy team is working around the clock with their Australian partners to reacquire the black box signal.
The search is currently taking place approximately 950 nautical miles northwest of Perth.
The U.S. Navy P-8s in Perth are still flying search missions. Overall patrol aircraft support to date includes 24 missions with 220 of flight time covering 336,000 square nautical miles.”
A second ship — the Australian military vessel Ocean Shield using the Towed Pinger Locator (TPL) 25 System (above) on loan from the U.S. Navy — has picked up a ‘ping’ possibly from the Malaysia Airlines missing aircraft’s flight data recorder, the so-called “black box.”
This comes after the Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 reported that hat it had “detected pulse signals both Friday and Saturday at 37.5 mHz, the same frequency used by an airplane flight data recorder,” according to the Stars and Stripes.
Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is coordinating search efforts from Perth, Australia, “called the Haixun 01 findings ‘the most promising lead’ and said airplanes as well as the British ship Echo were in route to the area where Haixun 01 was operating to investigate further. Commodore Peter Leavy, the task force commander in Perth, said it would take at least 14 hours for the Echo to arrive at that location,” says the Stripes.
More from the Stripes:
The Ocean Shield was about 300 nautical miles from the Haixun 01 and would not redeploy to the vicinity until it had concluded investigating the noise it had picked up, Houston said. Leavy said that if Ocean Shield was sent to area the Haixun 01 is in, it would take more than a day to reach the site.
At a news conference from Perth, Houston said investigators had made a “correction” to their calculations – based on satellite data – as to where the Boeing 777 had most likely entered the Indian Ocean after disappearing March 8 with 239 people aboard.
As a result of the correction, searchers were going to focus Sunday on the southern portion of the designated search area, rather than the northern portion. The Haixun 01 is operating in the southern part of the zone, he said. Water in the vicinity is extremely deep – nearly 3 miles, he said.
Houston cautioned that all of the pulses detected so far were brief and unverified. These are “fleeting, fleeting acoustic events,” he said, rather than a continuous transmission.
“We need HMS Echo and Ocean Shield to come to [Haixun 01’s] location,” he said. “But the fact that we’ve had two detections, two acoustic events in that location provides some promise that requires a full investigation.”
Lt. j.g. Nick Horton, left, and Lt. Clayton Hunt, naval aviators assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16, perform pre-flight checks in the flight station of a P-8A Poseidon prior to a mission to assist in search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith DeVinney)
The Bluefin 21 Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is hoisted back on board the Australian navy vessel Ocean Shield after successful buoyancy testing. Joint Task Force 658 is supporting Operation Southern Indian Ocean, searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair)
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Lead photo: The Towed Pinger Locator (TPL) 25 System used for locating emergency location pingers on downed Navy and commercial aircraft at a maximum depth of 20,000 feet anywhere in the world. (U.S. Navy photo)