News Asia-Pacific

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Noise could be from black box of missing airliner

'Man-made noise' found in search for missing jet

Jonathan Pearlman in Sydney

Published 11/04/2014 | 02:30

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A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion flies past the Australian navy vessel Ocean Shield as it drops sonar buoys to assist in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. REUTERS/Australian Defence Force

A SURVEILLANCE aircraft has detected a "man-made" noise believed to be from the black box of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane as authorities narrow the search to a thin stretch of the Indian Ocean.

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The latest signal was detected by a buoy dropped by an Australian P-3 Orion aircraft and follows four separate sets of transmissions picked up by a "pinger" locator being towed by an Australian navy ship.

The Orion dropped scores of buoys around the area where the other signals were detected.

Each buoy has a microphone placed 1,000 feet under water to try to detect further sounds.

"The acoustic data will require further analysis overnight but shows potential of being from a made-made source," said Angus Houston, a retired air chief marshal who is coordinating the search.

Authorities confirmed yesterday that the underwater search zone had been narrowed to an area of just 19 miles by 12 miles.

HUNT

A separate air and sea search has continued to hunt for floating debris but has been reduced by almost a quarter in recent days to an area of 22,000 square miles – the smallest so far.

Ten military aircraft, four civil aircraft and 13 ships were involved in the search.

Britain's HMS Echo, which has underwater search capabilities, is reportedly heading north to join Australia's Ocean Shield in the search area.

Echo had previously assisted a Chinese vessel, which first detected signals last Friday but it is now believed those noises were unrelated to the batch heard by the Ocean Shield.

An acoustic analysis by the Australian military found that the initial signals detected by the towed "pinger" locator were likely to have come from a black box beacon.

But the beacon's batteries are expected to last 30 days. The plane, which had 239 people on board, vanished on March 8.

The next step will be to send an unmanned submarine to capture images of the ocean floor and then photograph potential underwater wreckage. But the submarine moves slowly and will not be sent until the black box location has been precisely pinpointed or until the pinging is believed to have ended.

Mr Houston said on Wednesday that finding the plane is likely to be "a matter of days".

Meanwhile, yesterday, it was reported that Malaysia Airlines failed to properly preserve flight recordings during an incident at London's Heathrow Airport in 2012 when a plane had to turn back because of technical problems, a report by Britain's air accidents investigator found Thursday.

In the earlier incident in Britain, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 747 bound for Kuala Lumpur with 340 passengers on board had to return to Heathrow soon after takeoff on August 17, 2012, because of engine and electrical failures.

The pilots flew the plane manually and returned to the airport safely.

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch said all the audio information relating to the incident was lost because the cockpit voice recorder ran on long after the landing and erased previous data.

The report added that the airline said it was willing to train its staff to ensure they take steps to secure the recordings as soon as possible after an emergency. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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