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Underwater pings relocated in search for missing jet

PERTH, Australia (AP) - A ship searching for the missing Malaysian jet has detected two more underwater signals, raising hopes the wreckage of the plane will be spotted soon, the Australian official in charge of the search said Wednesday.

Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search for the missing plane in the southern Indian Ocean, said that the Australian navy's Ocean Shield picked up the two signals in a sweep on Tuesday.

"I think we are looking in the right area but I am not prepared to confirm anything until such time someone lays eyes on the wreckage," he said.

MH370 Search: 2 New Ping Signals Detected

The Ocean Shield first detected the sounds late Saturday and early Sunday before losing them, but managed to find them again on Tuesday, Houston said. The ship is equipped with a U.S. Navy towed pinger locator that is designed to pick up signals from a plane's black boxes - the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

"Hopefully in a matter of days, we will be able to find something on the bottom that might confirm that this is the last resting place of MH370," Houston said at a news conference in Perth, the starting point for the search in the southern Indian Ocean.

"I'm now optimistic that we will find the aircraft, or what is left of the aircraft, in the not too distant future - but we haven't found it yet, because this is a very challenging business," he said.

"And I would just like to have that hard evidence ... photograph evidence (before saying). that this is the final resting place of MH370," Houston said.

Finding the sound again is crucial to narrowing the search area so a small submarine can be deployed to chart a potential debris field on the seafloor, which is about 4,500 meters (14,800 feet) deep. If the autonomous sub was used now with the sparse data collected so far, covering all the potential places from which the pings might have come would take many days.

"The better Ocean Shield can define the area, the easier it will be for the autonomous underwater vehicle to subsequently search for aircraft wreckage," Houston said.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 carrying 239 people went missing March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur, setting off one of aviation's biggest mysteries. The search has shifted from waters off of Vietnam, to the Strait of Malacca and then finally to waters in the southern Indian Ocean as data from radar and satellites was further analyzed.

The locator beacons on the black boxes have a battery life of only about a month - and Tuesday marked exactly one month since the plane vanished. Once the beacons blink off, locating the black boxes in such deep water would be an immensely difficult, if not impossible, task.

__

Associated Press writers Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, and Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.

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Princess Kimber April 09 2014 at 9:17 PM

This is unreal........I cannot believe this plane has not been found as of yet...It has just vanished????!!!!! I do hope this plane is found before no further "pings" are detected! I am so sad for all of these families and send them my thoughts and prayers.

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Louise April 09 2014 at 2:59 PM

Just proves that truth is stranger than fiction. Not sure how much, if anything, I actually believe from the "credible" sources...this just gets weirder and weirder....feel bad for the missing passengers.

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johng52113 April 09 2014 at 12:39 PM

Regarding battery life in locator beacons, an easy solution to this problem would be to modify their design so that the interval between pings gradually increases with the passage of time, the beacon circuitry being allow to "sleep" between pings. This could be easily done with a relatively simple programming change and could be done in such a way as to make the battery life indefinitely long--more like that of the battery in an electric wristwatch, for example. The need for rapid pinging as an aid to fast search and rescue tends to diminish after a while.

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2 replies
orion15stars johng52113 April 09 2014 at 1:22 PM

I have no idea about anyone's else's batteries. However, every battery I have used eventually runs down, becomes weaker and quits. The amount of time for quitting depends on how much the battery is used. When that happens, my wristwatch battery causes the watch time mechanism to run much slower. Thus, increasing a slower time in running which loses the correct time. How would a programming change and of what would stop batteries from losing power? Batteries are used to automatically run any battery, which is the purpose of any battery. The strength of the sound depends on the strength of the battery. The only way to increase the life of a battery is to use the battery as little as possible. Batteries automatically lose their shelf life without being used. The purpose of lithium batteries, which are far more detrimentally volatile than alkaline batteries, is they have an years of extended life even when used. Something which other batteries don't. Other batteries aren't nearly as volatile as lithium.

If anything "sleeps", that makes it almost, if not 100%, impossible to locate searching at least 2 miles down in extremely unfriendly waters, until whatever it is wakes up again for a short period of time. In water, sounds become distorted which can easily lead searchers in all the wrong directions. It doesn't matter how sophisticated the equipment is. It's the sound wave conditions under water causing the distortions of sound waves.

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serious.stuff johng52113 April 09 2014 at 1:30 PM

That makes sense. If someone or some craft of some type were in the vicinity, it would have visual clues (hopefully), and your idea would give the battery a longer life span to make reaching the area more viable.

For all the nonsense, rhetoric and complaining I've seen on this article, I've also seen some very good ideas. But I don't count. Your idea (IMHO) is very sensible. The people to see that little idea that could save so much should be presented to people that count, such as Boeing, and I doubt they are reading the comments here. Snail mail.

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LKFeinberg April 09 2014 at 12:29 PM

There was a large load of flammable batteries in the hold. What if there was a fire that knocked out the communication equiptment and it had nothing to do with the pilot? What if the sharp turn inland was the pilot's desperate plan to land and then he passed out from the fumes as did everyone else? Then the plane would continue to fly on auto pilot until it ran out of gas.

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2 replies
Joe LKFeinberg April 09 2014 at 1:07 PM

What if the world came to an end tomorrow? What if I won the lottery? I could go on here but perhaps you get my point.

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Bill LKFeinberg April 09 2014 at 9:13 PM

your's is best guess. Or maybe someone on board thought a landing in the ocean would be a gateway to heaven. Hope the boxes will tell the tale.

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zidzag1973 April 09 2014 at 12:43 PM

I don't no tho the Vegas odds hell of a lot better on being landed then crashed? These guys are usually right on the money.

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Roon Levergood April 09 2014 at 11:12 AM

Why didn't they get the black box detector ship out earlier, And don't you think if the plane did a nose dive in the ocean that there would be at least a little debri, It is hard to belive that the plane stayed completly intact when it hit the ocean.

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1 reply
orion15stars Roon Levergood April 09 2014 at 12:21 PM

Because the weather in that part of the ocean wouldn't allow that to happen without risking many more lives. That was consistently reported as well. It's so easy to falsely judge what one doesn't know or care to know.

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ptcruuzer2 April 09 2014 at 12:01 PM

With today's technology why wouldn't the information being stored in the black boxes be recorded back on land somewhere instead? Use satellites to transfer the information. Get rid of the box. That way finding the black boxes wouldn't be so critical and maybe the location could be located sooner. Just a thought.

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3 replies
sharway777 April 09 2014 at 11:23 AM

OK here is one I am sure someone can answer. One lady on here was upset because they call it a "Black box". I would not be offended if they called it a "White box" but I had always heard that it was really Orange. Now Red. Why was it named black box in the first place. And what color is it for sure. Anyone know?

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8 replies
Lene April 09 2014 at 12:20 PM

May God Bless the efforts of the Crew that is working tirelessly to give hope to us all, on behalf of
the families of those that has lost their loved ones.

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1 reply
paulaflyhigh Lene April 09 2014 at 1:54 PM

AMEN !! LENE

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dickn2000b April 09 2014 at 12:03 PM

It's about time for some fundamental changes in the deign of these "black box" transmitters. Instead of audible pings, a much better solution would be to incorporate a GPS locator and use pulse code modulated very low frequency (vlf) radio waves to transmit the box's position.

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1 reply
HI BEAUTIFUL dickn2000b April 09 2014 at 12:21 PM

Maybe, but then air fares will go up a few hundred dollars more. Someone knows where that plane is and we are just not being told. with all those eyes in the sky and how we are led to believe nothing goes undected with the satillites up there and the sharp pictures they can show, it is very strange that nothing has been picked up by any of them. Sorry, I just don't buy it. By now someone could have dropped another black box in the area to throw the search off too. Just saying...........25 countries in this massive search and nothing is found and not one shred of anything from the plane. No way. Looking in the wrong area people and they know it.

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