Black box locator is days away from new search zone
Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 01:32
March 30 - A sophisticated U.S. black box locator is fitted to an Australian navy ship which will depart soon joining the search for missing Malaysian airliner, but time is running out. Sarah Toms reports.
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It's a race against time, as this Australian ship is fitted with a high tech black box locator supplied by the US navy.
The towed pinger locator, as its known, uses its highly sensitive listening equipment to detect any ultrasonic signals - "pings" - emitted from aircraft flight recorders.
It's hoped it will be able to find the black box from the Malaysia airlines jet, which disappeared on March 8th.
Pulled underwater behind a ship, the locator operates from a depth of about 6,000 metres.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) US NAVY SUPERVISOR OF SALVAGE AND DIVING, CAPTAIN MARK MATTHEWS SAYING:
"Once we do get a detection with the towed pinger locator, we would then deploy the Artemis, the under water vehicle here. Its an autonomous, it's basically a robot that can be programmed to go take a sonar mapping of the debris field. So we can properly identify where all the debris is. Once that's done we will swap one of the assemblies out with a camera unit and we do a full photo mosaic of the debris field so we can identify the items on the ocean floor."
The Australian navy is preparing to leave with the locator to join the massive search for the missing aircraft.
But it will be days before it reaches the new search zone which is around 1850 kilometres west of Perth.
Once its there, the search area is huge -- roughly the size of Poland.
And time is running out, the flight recorders' batteries, that transmit the signal, are expected to die in about a week.
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