PETALING JAYA: An Australian military aircraft detected a fifth underwater signal, possibly from MH370’s black box, as the search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft was narrowed further to a 57,923sq km patch of the Indian Ocean.
Angus Houston, who heads the agency coordinating the search in the area, said the AP-3C Orion aircraft detected the possible signal in the vicinity of the Australian ship Ocean Shield.
The plane, which has been dropping sound-locating buoys into the water near where the original sounds were heard, picked up a “possible signal” that may be from a man-made source, said Houston.
The Ocean Shield detected two pings on Saturday. This was followed by another two signals on Tuesday, which have allowed the search area to be gradually reduced.
“The acoustic data detected by the Orion aircraft will require further analysis overnight but shows potential of being from a man-made source,” Houston said in a statement issued by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) yesterday.
The Orion was among 14 aircraft and 13 ships which yesterday combed the seas 2,280km northwest of Perth, looking for signs of MH370 in a search area slightly bigger
than the land mass of Pahang and Johor combined.
The underwater search for signals from MH370’s black boxes was conducted by Ocean Shield at the northern end of the defined search area.
The Chinese ship Haixun 01 and British navy ship Echo searched for the underwater signals at the southern end of the search area.
The Perth-based JACC, set up to coordinate the search in the waters off Australia in the Indian Ocean, said aircraft and ships on Wednesday reported spotting many objects in the water, but only a small number were able to be recovered.
None of the recovered items was believed to be associated with MH370, said the JACC statement.
Search teams trying to get a fix on the missing aircraft are racing against time to locate further signals before the batteries of the black boxes, whose 30-day shelf-life expired on Tuesday, die out.
Associated Press quoted US Seventh fleet spokesman commander William Marks as saying that the search team was getting closer and closer to the aircraft’s location.
“When you put those two (sets of pings) together, it makes us very optimistic,” he said.