PETALING JAYA: The fifth underwater signal detected in the southern Indian Ocean has been confirmed as not from the missing Flight MH370’s black box or an aircraft underwater locator beacon.
Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Angus Houston, who heads the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), said the Royal Australian Air Force’s AP-3C Orion aircraft detected the signal on Thursday afternoon but an initial assessment determined it as not linked to MH370.
“The Australian Joint Acoustic Analysis Centre analysed the data and confirmed that the signal reported in the vicinity of the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield is unlikely to be related to aircraft black boxes.
“Further analysis continues to be undertaken by the centre,” he said in a statement issued by the JACC yesterday.
Houston said the Ocean Shield would continue the search with the towed pinger locator to try and locate further signals.
“It is vital to glean as much information as possible while the batteries on the underwater locator beacons may still be active.
“The AP-3C Orions are continuing their acoustic search, working in combination with Ocean Shield, with three more missions planned for Friday,” he said.
Houston reiterated that the deployment of an autonomous underwater vehicle could still be some days away.
“A decision as to when to deploy the vehicle will be made on advice from experts on board Ocean Shield.
“On the information I have available to me, there has been no major breakthrough in the search for MH370. I will provide a further update if, and when, information becomes available,” he said.
Up to 12 military aircraft, three civilian aircraft and 13 ships were involved in yesterday’s search.
The authorities are focusing the hunt in two areas totalling about 46,713 sq km. The centre of the areas is about 2,312km north-west of Perth. There were no sightings reported on Thursday by search aircraft or objects recovered by ships.
In another development, Royal Malaysian Air Force chief Jen Tan Sri Rodzali Daud debunked a CNN report that RMAF jets were scrambled soon after Malaysia Airlines reported MH370 missing early on March 8.
“In my capacity as the air force chief, I can confirm that the above allegation is totally false,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Quoting a senior Malaysian government official, CNN reported on Thursday that the aircraft were scrambled before authorities corroborated data indicating that the plane turned back westward.
The report also claimed that RMAF did not inform the Department of Civil Aviation or search and rescue operations about the so-called scrambling of its aircraft until three days later on March 11, citing “a source involved in the investigation”.
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