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Category: <span>beacon</span>

MH370: One Ping Does Not A Discovery Make. Or Does it?

An underwater locator beacon (ULB) such as the one on the black boxes (CVR) Cockpit Voice Recorder and FDR (Flight Data Recorder) of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on 37.5 kHz for about 30 days at 4°C temperature. They run on lithium-ion batteries, and “mileage” may vary; 30 days is the minimum expectation. This is all relevant to today’s news because the Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 which is one of the ships equipped with a pinger locator, has heard a ping in the South Indian Ocean.

The particular frequency was selected because it is not one that occurs in nature.

Although Malaysia Airlines told the public that “This battery is not replaceable,” the ULB batteries had been scheduled for battery replacement in 2012, but were not replaced by Dukane Seacom, the original equipment manufacturer of the beacons. (Dukane Seacom either replaces the entire pinger or installed new batteries.) If replacement was not performed by toe OEM or other parties, the actual ping time may be less than 30 days.

One ping in an ocean does not a discovery make. The wreckage has not been located, nor the ping confirmed. But we can still hope this is a step in the right direction.

New Black Boxes with one big Upgrade

The thirty-day ping life that black boxes are known for is about to be history, thanks to Radiant Power Corp, and Air France 477. After AF447, U.S. and European agencies decided to raise their expectations of black boxes. In 2011, they mandated a requirement that acoustic emergency transmitters be powered for at least 90 days. But with the rapid-fire application (standard for aviation procedures) that standard goes into effect next year. Associations like the FAA and the NTSB, and the BEA in France are cognizant of the size of airlines fleets, and the prohibitive cost of upgrades; so it is common for safety standards to take a long time to go into effect.

If they had raised the bar sooner and faster, MH370 might have had a bigger “ping” window, but the black box batteries are quickly coming to the end of their span.

Recommendations included the standard of expecting a new, lower-frequency emergency locator on every airliner, in addition to the 90 day battery-life.

The video Below has a representative of Radiant Power Corp showing a current beacon.

Crashed Plane Located

The missing Ace Air Cargo/Alaska Central Express Beech 1900 freight flight from King Salmon to Dillingham was located wrecked twenty miles from the airport in Muklung Hills.

At about 9:15 a.m., an emergency locator beacon had begun transmitting a signal.

The plane crashed in rough terrain in stormy weather. The two aboard were reported as fatalities.

Canadian Antarctica Support Flight Missing

On January 23, 2013, a Kenn Borek Air de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter was en route from the South Pole to Terra Nova Bay when it went missing en route, somewhere around Northern end, Queen Alexandra Range, Antarctica.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand is coordinating the search.

Three Canadians were aboard. The pilot is Captain Bob Heath, a Canadian with 25 years of Arctic and Antarctic experience. His plane was carrying survival tent and equipment and 5 day food supply.

The flight was a support mission from Amundson-Scott South Pole Base (USA) to an Italian base at Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica. A distress beacon sounded but a C-130 sweep sent by United States authorities at McMurdo failed to detect the plane. The beacon activated at around 10pm Wednesday night from the northern end of the Queen Alexandra Range, during hurricane force winds blowing slow below at temperatures below zero.

A DC-3 circled for five hours in heavy snow and 190 km winds.

A Twin Otter was scheduled to take off at around 8am NZ Time from McMurdo Station to fly over and establish a forward base approximately 50km from the mountainous area where the beacon is sounding, but weather may be prohibitive. A joint New Zealand and US field rescue team is planning a helicopter rescue as soon as weather permits.
View Video Below

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