Two new “ping” signals have been detected in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, reviving confidence in the month-old hunt, Australian officials said on Wednesday.
Australian ship Ocean Shield detected one ping that lasted for over five minutes on Tuesday afternoon, while a second one was detected on Tuesday night and lasted for about seven minutes, Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency coordinating the search, said.
“Ocean Shield has been able to reacquire the signals on two more occasions, late yesterday afternoon and later last night,” Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Center said.
“I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify aircraft wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370,” Houston added.
The U.S. Navy “ping locater” detected two signals that were consistent with black box beacons. The first lasted for more than two hours while the second was only for about 13 minutes.
Flights’ black boxes record cockpit data, and could provide information on the fate of the plane, but the batteries in the beacons have already exceeded their 30-day life expectancy.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur on March 8 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Its signal disappeared after it flew thousands of kilometers into the Indian Ocean towards Beijing, its destination.
Satellite data analysts and investigators centered the search to an approximate area of 2,261 kilometers northwest Australia’s Perth, in a remote area where they concluded the Boeing 777 could be.
The new signals may allow searchers to narrow the area even more.
“Now hopefully with lots of transmissions we’ll have a tight, small area and hopefully in a matter of days we will be able to find something on the bottom,” Houston said.
While authorities did not rule out the possibility of mechanical problems leading to the disappearance of the plane, they said evidence suggests the plane was deliberately diverted by someone familiar with the aircraft.