Jet Search Moves Underwater

Ships may only have a few days to find black boxes

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 4, 2014 4:11 AM CDT

(Newser) – Two ships have begun a race against time to try to find the black boxes of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 before the data recorder's battery-powered pinger ceases transmission. An Australian navy ship towing a pinger locator and a British survey vessel are searching a 150-mile track where the plane could have gone down, reports Reuters. "The area of highest probability as to where the aircraft might have entered the water is the area where the underwater search will commence," search chief Angus Houston told reporters. "On best advice the locator 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."

The Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8, so the search teams may now have just a few days to locate the signal, the BBC notes. Some 14 planes and nine ships are still searching an area of the southern Indian Ocean for floating wreckage, and Houston says there is still a strong possibility of finding debris like lifejackets. "This is a vast area, an area that’s quite remote, and we’ll continue the surface search for a good deal more time," he says. "If we find a piece of wreckage on the surface ... that gives us a much better datum to start the underwater search than we’ve currently got."

The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield has been fitted with an autonomous underwater vehicle and a towed pinger locator.
The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield has been fitted with an autonomous underwater vehicle and a towed pinger locator.   (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)
This US Navy Towed Pinger Locator is being used in the search for the missing jet's data recorder.
This US Navy Towed Pinger Locator is being used in the search for the missing jet's data recorder.   (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
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