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10 APRIL 2024

Monday, March 31, 2014

Black box developer doubts it will be found

A scientist who was part of the team to develop the black box says he is doubtful the device on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will be found.

'I've got to say I think their chances of finding this black box in very deep water when they don't know where it went down within an area of 1,000 km, are practically nil," Bill Schofield was quoted saying in an interview with China's official news agency Xinhua.

Schofield worked as a researcher for Australian black box inventor, David Warren, at the now defunct Royal Aeronautical Society in the 1960s.

Flight MH370 is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean but an extensive multinational search operation has yet to yield any results after 24 days.

The black box records every activity and maneuver experienced by an aircraft.

It is an essential and perhaps the only lead for investigators probing the disappearance of Flight MH370.

Schofield said going forward, the aviation industry may need to look at alternatives for collecting flight data such as through satellite transmission.

"It could transmit it all up to a satellite, but can you imagine how many aeroplanes are flying at any one time in the world and all of them saturating the satellite time? Satellite time is very valuable anyway. It would mean an awful lot of satellites," he said.

He added that another method could be to prolong the black box's battery life to ensure its beacon stays active so searchers can pick up its signal.

At present, the black box battery can only last for around 30 days and during this period, it will emit a ping that can be picked up by a pinger locator hydrophone if it is within a two nautical mile radius.

Such a detector has already been deployed in the Indian Ocean but the US Navy says it is pessimistic about finding the black box any time soon until the search area can be further narrowed.

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