Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Australian PM 'very confident' black box position narrowed down to 'within some kilometres'

Tony Abbott says teams believe signals being picked up in the southern Indian Ocean belong to missing plane

The Australian Prime Minster says teams leading the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are confident signals being picked up in the southern Indian Ocean are coming from the plane’s black flight recorders.

Tony Abbott told reporters in Shanghai, China, that crews searching for the jetliner have zeroed in on a more targeted area for the source of the pings, first heard on Saturday and then again on Tuesday.

"We are confident that we know the position of the black box flight recorder to within some kilometres," Mr Abbott said during his official visit on Friday. "But confidence in the approximate position of the black box is not the same as recovering wreckage from almost four km beneath the sea or finally determining all that happened on that flight."

The Australian navy vessel Ocean Shield has picked up signals consistent with the frequency emitted by flight recorders. A fifth signal picked up on Thursday is unlikely to be linked to MH370, officials now believe.

"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 warned. "We are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires."

Read more:  Malaysia says positive news could be 'hours' away
Navy divers to trawl search area after evidence of black box 'pings'

The batteries powering the devices' black boxes have a 30 day life expectancy, and it has been more than a month since flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The authorities want to keep narrowing in on a more precise location for the black boxes before they drop a submersible search vessel, which takes six times longer to cover the same area as the pinger locator dragged by Ocean Shield.

Complicating matters, however, is the depth of the seafloor in the search area. The pings are emanating from 4,500 meters below the surface — which is the deepest the Bluefin 21 can dive.

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 the fifth possible signal on Thursday, but Angus Houston, the head of the joint agency coordinating the hunt for the Boeing 777, said in a statement that an initial assessment had determined it was not related to an aircraft black box.

Graphic showing the location of the two sets of signals and planned search area off the west coast of Australia Graphic showing the location of the two sets of signals and planned search area off the west coast of Australia The Ocean Shield has been using a US towed pinger locator to try and locate additional signals on Friday, Mr Houston said. Searches using the pinger locater will continue until officials are certain the flight recorder batteries have ran out.

A document released by the Australian government on Thursday said that although batteries were only designed to last for 30 days,  it was likely that the acoustic pingers “would continue to transmit at decreasing strength for up to 10 more days”.

The underwater search zone is currently a 1,300-square-kilometer (500-square-mile) patch of the ocean floor, about the size of the city of Los Angeles.

Up to 15 planes and 13 ships were involved in Friday's search.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'