Australian authorities leading the southern Indian Ocean search for MH370, now report detection of three separate electronic noises — two of which appear to be in the same 37.5 kHz frequency range as the missing Boeing 777’s black box pinger beacons.
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The first two possible signals were detected within the last 72 hours by listening devices on the Chinese military vessel Haixun 01 located some 1500 km (930 mi) west of Perth.
The third was detected some 300 km (186 mi) away from the Chinese ship, by the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield.
null ,” Retired RAAF Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston told a press conference in Perth. “We are treating each of them very seriously. We need to ensure before we leave any of those areas of detection, that there is no connection to MH370.”
But last week, Forbes.com quoted U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Chris Johnson as saying that even with sophisticated acoustic listening devices deployed on the vessel Ocean Shield at subsurface depth, the black box pingers would likely only have an acoustic range of one mile.
Thus, Houston advised caution.
“This is an important encouraging lead but one which i urge you to continue to treat carefully,” Houston told reporters. “If you get close to the device, we should be receiving [signals] for a longer period of time than just a fleeting encounter.”
Today marks the 31st day of searching for the missing aircraft and the clock is ticking on finding the black boxes before their emergency acoustic pinger battery life expires.
With a nominal life of only 30 days, however, some experts estimate that they could still function up to 10 to 15 days longer.
Houston also told reporters that while a number of white surface objects had been sighted about 90 km (55 mi) from the Haixun 01’s signal detection area, he stressed that neither the signals nor the objects could be verified as being related to the aircraft at this point.
If the searchers are successful in finding the black boxes, however, they will also likely have a good chance of finding the main undersea wreckage of the downed aircraft. That, in turn, could eventually give investigators a whole new set of data about what caused the flight to go so horribly wrong.
Houston was also asked about how the aircraft might have actually entered the water.
“At this stage we have no idea,” Houston noted at the conference. “Did it glide into the water; did it go in vertically? We don’t know. That’s something that we shouldn’t speculate about at this time.”