The desperate search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet has been a difficult undertaking to say the least, and now aviation experts are reporting that the signal from the vital black box appears to have finally gone dead.
After four significant underwear signals in the past week, all has now gone silent. An Australian ship carrying a U.S. Navy listening device last picked up a signal on Tuesday, however, since then, no new electronic pings have been detected.
“We’re now into Day 37 of this tragedy,” said aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas. “The battery life on the beacons is supposed to last 30 days.”
He told AP: “We’re hoping it might last 40 days. However, it’s been four or five days since the last strong pings. What they’re hoping for is to get one more, maybe two more pings so they can do a triangulation of the sounds and try and narrow the (search) area.”
Despite the inability to pick up transmission from the black box beacon locator, search teams were out in earnest Sunday, scouring in upwards of 22,000 square miles of ocean, extending 1,367 miles northwest of Perth. As many as 12 planes and 14 ships were partaking in the search.
The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, expressed his strong belief that the pings detected by the Australian ship were indeed originating from the plane’s two black boxes, while offering that locating the actual aircraft would likely take a long time.
“There’s still a lot more work to be done and I don’t want anyone to think that we are certain of success – or that success, should it come, is going to happen in the next week or even month,” he said on Saturday in Beijing, at the end of a visit to China.
“There’s a lot of difficulty and a lot of uncertainty left in this.”
Another device known as a robotic submarine will be utilized to submerge and survey for wreckage, but only after officials are convinced that there are no more sounds emanating from the black boxes.
Employing the sub makes for a very slow process as it can take up to six times longer to cover the same area as the ping locator, and with the underwater zone being as extensive as it is, this could take anywhere from six weeks to two months time to canvass.
The underwater search zone is approximately 500 square miles of ocean floor, roughly the size of Los Angeles, and the signals originated from 15,000 feet below the surface, which is the deepest the sub can dive.
In order to get the answers investigators desperately seek, recovery of the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders is crucial. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished on March 8, carrying 239 people en route to Beijing.
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