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article imageSearchers find more signals that could be from missing plane

By Nathan Salant     Apr 9, 2014 in World
Perth - Searchers trying to locate a Malaysia Airlines jetliner that vanished last month with more than 200 passengers heard two new signals Tuesday that might be from the missing plane's flight data recorders.
Searchers trying to locate a Malaysia Airlines jetliner that vanished last month with more than 200 passengers heard two new signals Tuesday that might be from the missing plane's flight data recorders.
The head of Australia's Maritime Safety Authority said at a news conference in Perth that it was likely that searchers were finally in the right place after weeks of frustrating searching for Malaysia Flight 370, which vanished from radar screens on Dec. 8 and has not been seen since.
"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," authority head Angus Houston said.
"I'm now optimistic that we will find the aircraft, or what is left of the aircraft, in the not too distant future," he said, according to the Reuters international news service.
But even if the proximate location of the aircraft's flight recorders have been located, far off-course from its planned route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, it is likely in water nearly three miles deep and will be extremely difficult to recover.
The flight recorders contain information that should help investigators understand why Flight 370 flew for hours in nearly the opposite direction from where it was expected to be heading.
The 227 passengers and 12 crew are presumed lost.
No wreckage from the plane has been found, so the heavily reinforced black boxes probably mark the location of the remains of the airplane.
The black boxes record cockpit data and may provide answers about what happened to the plane when it vanished on March 8 and flew thousands of kilometers off its flight plan.
The recorders are designed to emit electronic pulses for at least 30 days, but it is more than 30 days since the plane disappeared, Reuters said.
Authorities believe the plane was diverted by someone with knowledge of its operation, since automatic signalling devices onboard the aircraft seemed to have been turned off, but have not absolutely ruled out mechanical problems.
Investigators concluded after weeks of analyzing satellite data that the jet went down in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, nearly 1,500 miles northwest of Perth.
As many as 30 planes and ships from several countries have joined in the search effort.
A Chinese ship reported hearing signals last week, and high-tech US Navy listening equipment sent to the area picked up signals over the weekend that it said were consistent with black box locator beacons.
More than half of the passengers aboard Flight 370 were Chinese nationals, Reuters said.
Houstno said a signal was picked up Tuesday afternoon that lasted more than five minutes and another Tuesday night that lasted seven minutes.
US Navy Capt. Mark Matthews told Reuters on Wednesday that the pings had been found within a 1,000-mile area but were not necessarily the same signal.
"I'd say they are separate acoustic events," Matthews said.
"There has been variability in the geographic position which leads me to be less optimistic than I would be if I could consistently reacquire the signal so that I have a nice, small geographic area to focus the autonomous underwater vehicle search on," he said.
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