The mystery revolving around the missing Malaysia Airlines jet could be over “in the next few days, if not hours,” according to Malaysian Transportation Minister Hishammudin Bin Hussein. Retired Australian Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston offered reporters in Perth a glimpse of optimism Monday, when he concluded that the signals detected so far are “very encouraging” and represent the best information we have.” Although this does not mean that the airplane has finally been found, experts state it is unlikely that the “pings” are a coincidence.
Time is running out, because the black boxes’ beacons belonging to the missing Malaysia Airlines jet only last approximately one month, but officials believe that the mystery could be over “in the next few days.” Tuesday marks exactly one month since the airplane disappeared with 239 people aboard, so picking up the signals from the flight data and voice recordings in the following hours is essential for unravelling the mystery. Currently, the searches depend on the Australian ship Ocean Shield’s ability to pick up the signal again, so that the crew can launch a Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle which can scan for the debris belonging to the Malaysia Airlines jet. However, Houston stated the problem is that the submarine will be functioning to the limits of its capability, since it can dive to about 14,800 feet and the sea floor is even deeper in some spots.
Although Malaysian Transportation Minister Hishammudin Bin Hussein believes that the mystery revolving around the missing Malaysia Airlines jet could be over “in the next few days, if not hours,” Houston does not think that the debris will be recovered so soon.
In very deep oceanic water nothing happens fast,” Houston warned.
Confirming the signals is not an easy job and searchers must fix their position first, before the unmanned submarine tries to locate the wreckage on the sea floor. Although Houston admits to have finally obtained “a visual indication on a screen” along with “an audible signal,” this does not mean that the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has been found. Still, Geoff Dell, discipline leader of accident investigation at Central Queensland University in Australia believes that the sounds are likely to come from the aircraft’s black box.
Xinhua learned that the first signal was detected Saturday by a Chinese ship Haixun 01 in the Indian Ocean and a second “ping” reappeared the next day for no more than 90 seconds within 1.4 miles of the previous signal. After that, Ocean Shield also picked up signals, but Houston cannot confirm that they belong to the black boxes of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.
Since no emergency signals or messages came from the plane before it disappeared from radar, the entire world has been working together to solve the mystery. So far, three civil planes, up to nine military jets and 14 ships assisted in the search, but the trouble could finally pay off. However, taking into consideration that the black boxes’ beacons’ battery does not resist more than one month, the time is running out. Although Australian officials are scarce in declarations and do not want to promise that the missing Malaysia Airlines jet could soon be found, Malaysian authorities believe that the mystery could be over “in the next few days.”
By Gabriela Motroc