Missing Jet Search: ‘Ping’ Signal May Not Be Flight MH370 Black Box

The missing Malaysia Airlines jet may be on the verge of being found — or it may not. A “ping” detected Saturday by a Chinese ship could be emanating from the Flight MH370 black box, but search officials were quick to caution that there is no way to connect the signal detected by Chinese ship Haixun 01, pictured above, and the missing jet.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, chief of the Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre said searchers “cannot verify any connection” between the signal and the plane’s black box.

“I have been advised that a series of sounds have been detected by a Chinese ship in the search area. The characteristics reported are consistent with the aircraft black box,” Houston said. “However, there is no confirmation at this stage that the signals and the objects are related to the missing aircraft.”

Signal Could Prove Another In Long Series Of False Leads

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet has seen numerous false and fruitless leads since Flight MH370 vanished from radar and lost communication with the ground on March 8, leading Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot to caution that the latest lead may turn out to be just another disappointment.

“We are hopeful but by no means certain,” Abbott said. “This is the most difficult search in human history. We need to be very careful about coming to hard and fast conclusions too soon.”

However, the 37.5 kilohertz frequency of the signal picked up by the Chinese ship is unique to aircraft black box devices, including the device on the missing jet and should therefore not be easily confused with other radio signals that can be heard in the seas, mostly emitted by sea animals.

Objects Also Seen Floating In Area Where Signal Was Heard

Chinese search aircraft reported seeing objects floating in the water in the area where the “ping” signal was detected. But there have also been many sightings of floating objects in the Indian Ocean about 1,500 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia, in the past couple of weeks. Yet no trace of the missing jet has been recovered.

Houston, however, sad he had not given up on finding actual pieces of the missing jet.

“I think there’s still a great possibility of finding something on the surface,” he said. “There’s lots of things in aircraft that float.”

Starting on Sunday, searchers will focus their efforts on an 83,400 square mile area 1,200 miles into the ocean northwest of Perth. Up to 12 aircraft and 13 ships will comb that area for the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 missing jet in that region.