“Hopefully in a matter of days we will be able to find something on the bottom.” So says the head of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane after two new “ping” signals were detected in the southern Indian Ocean.
The signals, which could be from the plane’s black box recorders, bring to four the number of overall “pings” detected in recent days within the search area by a US Navy “Towed Pinger Locator”(TPL).
Optimism increased after the earlier signals were studied by experts.
Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency coordinating the search, said the experts had, “assessed that the transmission was not of natural origin and was likely sourced from specific electronic equipment. They believed the signals to be consistent with the specification and description of a flight data recorder”.
The black boxes record cockpit data and may provide answers about what happened to the plane, which was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew when it vanished on March 8 and flew thousands of kilometres off its Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing route.
But with the families of passengers and crew on board the missing Boeing 777 desperate for news, those in charge of the international search off western Australia have also urged caution.
“I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify aircraft wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370,” Houston told reporters in Perth.
This remains a race against time with the batteries powering the black boxes locater signals near the end of their 30 day life and due to expire.