There’s possible good news in the nearly monthlong mystery of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: On Saturday, a Chinese patrol ship participating in the multinational search effort in the southern Indian detected a “ping” that could be coming from the plane’s black box recorders. The 37.5 kHz signal reported is a “standard beacon frequency” that is “identical” to that of the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, according to Anish Patel, the president of Dukane Seacom, which makes the devices. The bad news is that the batteries that power the black boxes’ pings are set to expire in days, so time is indeed running out.
“Where we’re at right now, four weeks since this plane disappeared, we’re much, much closer. But frustratingly, we’re still miles away from finding it. We need to find some piece of debris on the water; we need to pick up the ping,” airlineratings.com editor-in-chief Geoffrey Thomas told the AP.
If a piece of floating wreckage from Flight 370 is discovered, officials can use currents data to backtrack to where the plane hit the water, and hopefully find the recorders. “If it doesn’t happen, the only hope for finding the plane may be a full survey of the Indian Ocean floor, an operation that would take years and an enormous international operation,” the AP explained.
Meanwhile, Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s defense minister and acting transport minister, has once again sworn his country will not stop trying to find Flight 370. On Saturday, he also told reporters that satellite images or data were no longer generating new leads for searchers, and that the effort had shifted entirely to the ocean itself.