Search crews in the Indian Ocean failed to pick up more of the faint underwater sounds that may have been from the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane's black boxes whose batteries are at the end of their life.
The signals first heard late Saturday and early Sunday had sparked hopes of a breakthrough in the search for Malaysia Airlines MH370, but Angus Houston, the retired Australian air chief marshal leading the search far off western Australia, said listening equipment on the Ocean Shield ship has picked up no trace of the sounds since then.
Finding the sound from Malaysia Airlines MH370 black boxes again is crucial to narrowing the search area so a submarine can be deployed to chart a potential debris field on the seafloor. If the autonomous sub was used now with the sparse data collected so far, covering all the potential places from which the pings might have come would take many days.
Crew members ride a fast response craft from the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield as they continue to search for debris in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 8, 2014. A robotic search vehicle is likely to be sent deep into the Indian Ocean on Tuesday to look for wreckage of a missing Malaysian jetliner on the sea floor, as officials say the chance of finding anything on the surface has dwindled. Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency coordinating the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, said the month-long hunt was at a critical stage given the black box recorder batteries were dying - or had died. (Reuters)
''It's literally crawling at the bottom of the ocean so it's going to take a long, long time,'' Houston said.
The locator beacons on the black boxes have a battery life of only about a month - and Tuesday marked exactly one month since the plane vanished. Once the beacons blink off, locating the black boxes in such deep water would be an immensely difficult, if not impossible, task.
''There have been no further contacts with any transmission and we need to continue (searching) for several days right up to the point at which there's absolutely no doubt that the batteries will have expired,'' Houston said.
If, by that point, the U.S. Navy towed