Malaysian authorities have said they are hopeful that there will be new developments in the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 very soon, after an Australian vessel detected signals consistent with those of a black box recorder.
Speaking in a press conference today, Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein, said he had been briefed by Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), and was “cautiously hopeful that there will be a positive development in the next few days if not hours”.
The BBC reports that air Chief Marshall Houston said earlier that the signals were detected using the ‘towed pinger locator’ on the Ocean Shield ship. He said that two separate detections occurred, the first being held for two hours and 20 minutes. The ship then turned around and detected the signal again.
ACM Houston: “On this occasion two distinct pinger returns were audible. Significantly this would be consistent with transmissions from both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.”
He added that the signals were located at a depth of 4,500 metres (14,764 feet).
He also said that he is now far more hopeful of eventually locating the missing plane, saying: “I’m much more optimistic than I was a week ago.”
“We are now in a very well defined search area, which hopefully will eventually yield the information that we need to say that MH370 might have entered the water just here.”
He cautioned, however, that it may take some time to determine whether the ‘pings’ are really from MH370’s black box.
“It could take some days before the information is available to establish whether these detections can be confirmed as being from MH370. In very deep oceanic water, nothing happens fast.”
ACM Houston added that once the position of the signals had been fixed, ships could lower equipment to try to find wreckage on the seabed.