In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, The Bluefin 21, Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is hoisted back on board the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after successful buoyancy testing April 1, 2014 in the Indian Ocean. Photograph: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
Crews searching for the missing Malaysian plane have started underwater scouring of the southern Indian Ocean for pings emitted by the aircraft’s black boxes, the Australian official leading the probe said.
A 240-kilometer track will be combed, said retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who heads Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre. The search track for pingers was determined using analysis based on data about the plane’s flight path, Houston said.
The recovery effort faces a narrowing window as batteries in the black box pingers that emit signals only last for about 30 days. The Malaysian Airline System Bhd. (MAS) jet disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board while on a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
Investigators have relied on limited contact between Flight 370 and an Inmarsat Plc (ISAT) satellite to draw up possible paths the plane took after the Boeing Co. (BA) 777-200ER aircraft vanished from civilian radar. Planes and ships from Australia, Malaysia, China, the U.S., South Korea, New Zealand and Japan are taking part in the hunt, the longest in modern passenger-airline history between a disappearance and initial findings of debris.
Earlier this week, British nuclear submarine HMS Tireless joined the hunt for the missing aircraft.