Flight 370: ‘No Further Contacts’ as Ship Searches for More Pings in Indian Ocean
Avoiding Interference, Authorities Keep Other Ships Away From Search Zone
As the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner entered its 32nd day, Australian authorities managing the search expressed concern after search crews failed to pick up more pings of the pings that may have emanated from the plane’s black boxes whose batteries are at the end of their life.
The Royal Australian Navy’s Ocean Shield ship continued Tuesday to sweep a seven-mile section of the southern Indian Ocean, fitted with U.S. Navy black-box detector equipment that is capable of picking up signals emanating from well below the ocean’s surface.
While Australian officials were decidedly optimistic on Monday, saying they were “very close” to finding the wreckage, the tone was different Tuesday as authorities said that there had been no trace of the sounds in the past day.
“There have been no further contacts with any transmission and we need to continue for several days right up to the point at which there’s absolutely no doubt that the batteries will have expired,” Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the chief coordinator of Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is managing the search for the missing plane, told reporters.
To avoid any possible interference with the black box signals, searchers are keeping other ships or underwater vehicles out of the search area. A deployment of the Bluefin 21 autonomous underwater vehicle would signify a major shift, namely that there was no hope of receiving any further signals from the black boxes.
“Until we stop the pinger search, we will not deploy the submersible,” said Air Chief Marshal Houston.
During Tuesday’s news conference, Australian Defense Minister David Johnston called the search a “Herculean task” given the size of the area and the ocean’s depth. He said that the country is “throwing everything at this difficult complex task” possible in the next several days, “whilst we believe the two pingers involved are still active.”