Australian defence vessel Ocean Shield has detected more pings consistent with black box signals in the southern Indian Ocean, revitalising the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 a month after it mysteriously vanished.
The Australian ship picked up two signals on Tuesday afternoon and evening (Perth time). The first acoustic signal lasted for about five minutes and 32 seconds and the second seven minutes, giving the authorities hope they could be closing in on the missing airliner's final location.
"Yesterday's signals will assist in better defining a reduced and much more manageable search area on the ocean floor," said retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is leading the search operations.
The latest set of detections by the Ocean Shield, which tows the pinger locator brought from the US, takes the number of such pings picked up by the vessel to four. Acoustic noises from the suspected area of the jetliner's crash were first detected over the weekend.
Authorities are racing against time as the battery life of the flight data recorder runs out in 30 days.
"The better Ocean Shield can define the area, the easier it will be for the autonomous underwater vehicle to subsequently search for aircraft wreckage. I believe we are searching 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 said.
The Australian added he was optimistic that the missing plane, or "what is left of the aircraft", will be found eventually.
"But we haven't found it yet because this is a very challenging business. We're relying on transmissions that have come and gone and I'd just like to have that hard evidence, a photograph evidence that there's pieces of aircraft down there to know that actually this is the final resting place of MH370."
The search zone has also been narrowed down for the operations and up to 11 military aircraft, four civilian jets, and about 14 vessels will comb the area.