The deep-sea underwater hunt has begun for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Retired Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, who is the head of the huge search effort, told reporters in Perth, that a crew is preparing to launch the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, U.S. Navy Bluefin-21, “as soon as possible.”
Since there were no "ping" signals heard since last Tuesday, officials think that the black box’s battery may have died. “Today is day 38 of the search. The guaranteed shelf-life of the batteries on the aircraft black boxes is 30 days.” Houston said. “Despite the lack of further detections, the four signals previously acquired taken together constitute the most promising lead we have in the search for MH370.”
Four signals were picked up last week which experts believe could have come from a black box. An aircraft's black box has two recorders; one for voice, the other for data. Each is equipped with a beacon that activates upon contact with water, giving off ping signals that are easily identifiable with the equipment and not easily confused with ocean sounds.
The search team wanted to continue to use the Ocean Shield as long as possible to detect more pings, which would have given them a more exact location in which to search underwater.
However, with the pings no longer active, it was time for the underwater search.
Houston stated in a press release, that the Bluefin-21′s missions will be a minimum of 24 hours long: it would take two hours to get to the bottom of the ocean, 16 hours to search, and two hours to resurface. The tedious task of downloading all of the data would be another four hours, and the analyzing of the data even longer.
“The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle in sight scan sonar mode transmits an active pulse which produces a high resolution, three dimensional map of the sea floor,” Houston explained. It will first search a surface area of about 15 square miles.
Families and friends are desperate to learn the truth about Malaysian Flight 370.
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