Authorities are confident that a series of underwater signals detected in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean are coming from the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane's black boxes, Australia's prime minister said Friday.
Tony Abbott told reporters in Shanghai, China, that crews hunting for Malaysia Airlines MH370 have zeroed in on a more targeted area in their search for the source of the sounds, first heard on Saturday.
“We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident that the signals that we are detecting are from the black box on Malaysia Airlines MH370,'' Abbott said.
“Nevertheless, we're getting into the stage where the signal from what we are very confident is the black box is starting to fade,'' he added. ``We are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires.''
The plane's black boxes, or flight data and cockpit voice recorders, could help solve the mystery of why the Malaysia Airlines MH370 Boeing 777 veered so far off course when it vanished on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people on board. But the batteries powering the devices' locator beacons last only about a month _ and it has been more than a month since the plane disappeared.
Finding Malaysia Airlines MH370 black boxes after the beacons blink off will be extremely difficult because the water in the area is 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) deep.
The Australian ship Ocean Shield, which is towing a U.S. Navy device that detects black box signals, first picked up two underwater sounds on Saturday that were later determined to be consistent with the pings emitted from the flight recorders. The ship's equipment detected two more sounds in the same general area on Tuesday.
“We are confident that we know the position of the black box flight recorder to within some kilometers, but confidence in the approximate position of the black box is not the same as recovering wreckage from almost 4 kilometers beneath the sea or finally determining all that happened on that flight,'' Abbott said.
An Australian air force P-3 Orion, which has been dropping sonar buoys into the water near where the Ocean Shield picked up the sounds, detected another possible signal on Thursday, but Angus Houston, who