Australian Prime Minister MH370: Confident Flight Is Source of Pings

Image: Australian Prime Minister MH370: Confident Flight Is Source of Pings

Friday, 11 Apr 2014 03:55 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is "confident" that Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 is the source of the pings coming from the ocean, he said Friday as a fifth signal was detected.

"We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident that the signals that we are detecting are from the black box on MH370," Abbott said, according to The Associated Press.

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A P-3 Orion from the Australian air force has been working in the 500-square-mile area of the Indian Ocean where pings were first heard, dropping sonar buoys to try to narrow the search area.

Searchers are trying to work quickly before the batteries on the black box wear out. Tuesday was one month since the plane went down, and that means the batteries will soon begin to fade.

The search is complicated by the depth of the Indian Ocean in the that area, and some of the pings detected came from as deep as 14,763 feet, which is not quite 3 miles down.

Once the search area is narrowed as much as possible, the robotic Bluefin 21 sub will be deployed to try to find the black box. The ocean depth, though, may challenge the sub’s capabilities.

“It'll be pretty close to its operating limit. It's got a safety margin of error and if they think it's warranted, then they push it a little bit," said Stefan Williams, a professor of marine robotics at Sydney University, according to CBS News. There are options to use subs that can dive to lower depths.

Planes and ships continued Friday to search for debris on the ocean surface. They are searching a much larger area of about 18,000 square miles. The southern Indian Ocean area was determined to be the most likely area where the plane went down, based on its flight path.

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