#MH370: Sonobuoys detect possible signals from black boxes

April 10, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Good morning:

I have more good news to report in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

CNN is reporting this morning that an Australian P3 Orion has picked up signals during Thursday’s search from some of the 84 sonobuoys that were dropped into ocean in the vicinity of the location where the Ocean Shield picked up signals from the black boxes with the towed pinger locater (TPL).

Sonobuoys, which float on the surface, dangle a hydrophone (i.e., an underwater microphone) attached to a 1,000 foot cable. The sonobuoy broadcasts any radio signal picked up by the hydrophone.

Searchers are using the sonobuoys to precisely locate the black boxes on the ocean bottom, which is 14,800 feet deep.

The electronic information picked up by the sonobuoys will be evaluated Thursday night.

Depending on the results, the Ocean Shield may deploy the Bluefin 21 to find the wreckage and and photograph it.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

We work hard for you. This is our 966th post. If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation.

Fred


#MH370: Searchers detect more pings late Tuesday afternoon and evening

April 9, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Good morning:

The Ocean Shield, which is using the U.S. Navy’s towed pinger locater (TPL) to search for the black boxes that were on board Malaysia Airlines MH370, twice detected pinging signals from the flight data recorder late Tuesday afternoon and again on Tuesday night.

Zee News India is reporting:

In what is further expected to boost the chances of finding black box of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370, Australian Naval ship Ocean Shield equipped with US-Navy supplied black box detector (Towed Pinger Locator) is reported to have detected two more ‘pings’.

Australian search coordinator Angus Houston told reporters that the signals detected on Tuesday afternoon and evening, were believed to “be consistent with the specification and description of a flight data recorder”.

“Ocean Shield has been able to reacquire the signals on two more occasions, late yesterday afternoon and later last night,” said Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre.

“I believe we are searching in the right area,” he said.

CNN provides specific information about the pings:

The first signal, at 4:45 p.m. Perth Time on Saturday, lasted 2 hours 20 minutes.

The second, at 9:27 p.m. Saturday, lasted 13 minutes.

The third signal was picked up Tuesday at 4:27 p.m. That lasted 5 minutes 32 seconds.

The fourth, at 10:17 p.m. Tuesday, was 7 minutes long.

Unfortunately, the searchers do not yet have enough data to confidently pinpoint the location of the black boxes. They do not want to begin searching with the remotely operated sub (Bluefin 21) until they have shrunk the area to be searched as much as possible.

The Bluefin 21’s sonar can scan only about 100 meters to each side and its lights can only illuminate a few meters. The maximum depth at which it can operate is 4,500 meters and some areas of the search zone are deeper. Because of these limitations, they will continue to listen for pings until they are satisfied that they know the location of the black boxes or the batteries have died. The boxes are not going anywhere, so they are not going to risk losing or damaging the Bluefin 21 during a premature dive.

Due to the difference in time, Perth is 12 hours ahead of New York and the late news conference Tuesday evening, news of the pings was not reported until long after I posted my article yesterday in which I said no pings were found Tuesday.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation today.


#MH370: No pings detected during Tuesday search

April 8, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Good morning:

The searchers did not detect any pings on Tuesday and that may be because the batteries on the black boxes have expired.

They will continue to listen for pings because it’s possible that the batteries might not have expired and they need the pings to triangulate the precise location of the black boxes. Otherwise, it might take a long time of hit and miss searching of the ocean bottom to locate them.

Here’s the latest report from Sky News in Australia.

Two sets of possible black box pings picked up by the Australian vessel Ocean Shield in the southern Indian Ocean – one that was held for two hours and 20 minutes, and another for 13 minutes – remain the best lead so far.

Search co-ordinator Angus Houston said no more signals had been detected since those announced on Monday.

But the former defence force chief said strenuous attempts to pick up more would continue until there was no doubt the black box beacon’s battery, now two days past its 30-day life, had run out.

Batteries often lasted several days longer than that, so there was still hope, he said.

‘Until we stop the pinger search, we will not deploy the submersible … unless we find another transmission,’ he told reporters in Perth on Tuesday.

‘If we can get more transmissions, we can get a better fix on the ocean floor, which will enable a much more narrowly focused visual search for wreckage.

‘If we go down there now and do a visual search, it will take many, many days because it’s very slow, very painstaking work to scour the ocean floor.’

He said some of the false acoustic leads that had been discounted had come from a search ship.

‘It got its own transmissions back again. Funny things happen in that environment and you can’t assume things,’ he said.

‘We think the Ocean Shield transmission is probably the most promising one and we continue to prosecute that.’

You are up to date.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

We have only received 3 donations totaling $35. If you appreciate what we do, please donate today.

Fred


#MH370: “We are very close to where we need to be” Updated below

April 7, 2014
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777

We are very close to where we need to be

Monday, April 7, 2014

Good morning:

Angus Houston, the head of the joint agency coordinating the search in the southern Indian Ocean said today, “We are very close to where we need to be.”

CBS is reporting encouraging news this morning regarding signals picked up by the Ocean Shield:

The Australian navy’s Ocean Shield, which is carrying high-tech sound detectors from the U.S. Navy, picked up two separate signals within a remote patch of the Indian Ocean far off the west Australian coast that search crews have been crisscrossing for weeks. The first signal lasted two hours and 20 minutes before it was lost. The ship then turned around and picked up a signal again – this time recording two distinct “pinger returns” that lasted 13 minutes, Houston said.

“Significantly, this would be consistent with transmissions from both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder,” Houston said.

He said the position of the noise needs to be further refined, and then an underwater autonomous vehicle can be sent in to investigate.

The ocean is approximately 14,800 feet deep in the area where the two distinct pinger sounds were detected. That is within the range that the remotely operated sub can function.

While urging caution, Houston said,

“We’ve got a visual indication on a screen, and we’ve also got an audible signal. And the audible signal sounds to me just like an emergency locator beacon,” he said.

“We are encouraged that we are very close to where we need to be.”

This location is 600 kilometers northeast of the location where the Haixun 01 detected signals on Friday and Saturday.

Because the two locations are so far apart, there is little likelihood that the sounds detected came from the same source. Many people believe the Ocean Shield is more likely to have detected the black boxes than the Haixun 01 because it’s towing a sensitive pinger locater that is attached to a cable that can reach a depth of 20,000 feet, whereas, the Haixun 01 is using a surface sound detector that was designed for divers to locate items of interest at depths up to 600 feet. It was not designed for the purpose that it is being used and may not be providing accurate and reliable information, according to the manufacturer.

The next step will be an attempt to verify that the signals came from the two black boxes. That will involve multiple efforts to drag the pinger locater through the area of interest in order to identify a specific location on the ocean bottom to search.

Then send the sub to take a look.

UPDATE: The LA Times is reporting:

Cmdr. William Marks of U.S. 7th Fleet, who is aboard the Ocean Shield, said the towed pinger locator was only about 985 feet deep when it began detecting the pings at one-second intervals. “We were not overly optimistic,” he told CNN by satellite phone from the ship.

But after lowering the towed pinger locator to nearly 4,600 feet, the crew was able to get hold of the signal for more than two hours.

Marks noted that if the signal was coming from a black box, the signal should get stronger and then fade as the locator passed over the site. “That’s what happened,” Marks said, describing searchers as “cautiously optimistic.”
Crews then did a course change and passed back over the area, lowering the towed pinger locator to about 9,850 feet, which Marks called the “optimal depth.” Crews were able to pick up a signal for about 15 minutes, he said.

According to Houston, the area where the signals were detected has a depth of about 14,800 feet — the maximum depth the underwater vehicle can operate in. He cautioned that “in very deep oceanic water, nothing happens fast” and that it could take “some days” to establish whether this is connected with Flight 370.

Photo by Aero Icarus released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This is our 961st post. Please consider making a donation today so that we can continue our in-depth reporting.

Fred


%d bloggers like this: