Took 2 years to find Air France’s black box – so why are only 17 days left to find Flight 370′s?

I’ve been asking around as to why all the experts are saying that we only have 17 days to find the “black boxes” from missing Malaysia Airline Flight 370.

After all, they didn’t find the black boxes from Air France Flight 447, which went down in the Atlantic Ocean on a flight from Rio to Paris in 2009, for a good two years after the accident.

So why is it any different now?  Why don’t they have two years to find Flight 370′s black boxes?

The answer is simple.  They spotted the wreckage from the Air France flight within one day.  So they knew where to look.

With Malaysia Airlines, we still don’t know where the plane even went down.  And the longer it takes to find wreckage, the further away from the original crash site that wreckage will be, and thus the more difficult it will be to backtrack the original position of the crash, taking into account the currents and the time that has passed.  If it goes on too long, we may not find where the plane went down.

But still, even if you know the general vicinity of an ocean crash, how do you find a black box when the automatic ping fails after 30 days?  Mini unmanned submarines, or “autonomous underwater vehicles.”

The Air France searchers used three Remus 600o autonomous underwater vehicles to search for and ultimately find the wreckage of flight 447. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.)

The Air France searchers used three Remus 6000 autonomous underwater vehicles to search for and ultimately find the wreckage of flight 447. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.)

These torpedo-shaped AUV’s crawl the ocean bottom, for up to 22 hours at a time, at speeds up to 6mph, using use sonar to search for debris.

And they found it – not too far from where they found the wreckage on the surface.

But they needed to know where to look, where to have the AUVs crawl.  And to do that, they either need to hear a ping, or find some wreckage, fast.  Yes, you can still put the AUV down anywhere, and have it crawl 6mph, but you’ve got a much better chance of finding the wreckage on a very large planet if you know where to search in the first place.


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More on the search for Air France Flight 370 using the Remus 6000:


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Dan

    Actually they found AF447 after they instead looked at its last known location, instead of where they found the debris.

  • Hollywood

    The over the horizon radar is a fixed ground station that looks north towards Indonesia and China as that is where Australia’s threat comes from. It is not pointed out west or south west and is not a rotating radar. There is no radar coverage where MH370 went down.

  • hidflect

    It’s called over-the-horizon radar. Look it up.

  • mtiffany

    There are no radar stations in the middle of the ocean.

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  • hidflect

    I think it’s disingenuous that all the countries are pretending they didn’t track that plane every inch it travelled. Or are the tens of Billions of dollars they all spent on military radar so worthless they couldn’t track a civillian jet liner? Great. So Japan can launch a squadron of Zero’s to attack Vietnam and no one will see them coming? Bullsh1t.

  • jomicur

    Never fear. Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Greham Lotz, has explained the disappearance. http://www.alternet.org/belief/billy-grahams-daughter-thinks-she-has-solved-mystery-flight-370

  • jomicur

    And don’t forget the video of Obama’s gay threesome with Barney Frank and Neil Patrick Harris.

  • evodevo

    That’s why I am increasingly doubtful they will ever find the wreck. This part of the Indian Ocean is really deep and full of crevasses. Not very likely they will locate this needle in the haystack.

  • jjor

    if black box doesn’t work any sound….maybe mh370 in submarin … and put them under the sea later so… black box doesn’t work any sound

  • RepubAnon

    Last I heard, Fox was explaining that the flight not only had President Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate aboard, but also had critical evidence regarding BENGHAZI! It also had flight plans for the FEMA helicopters with giant electromagnets to suck up all your guns…

    (/snark)

  • bkmn

    This reinforces the mistake that Malaysia made by not being forthcoming with information they had during the first 24 hours that led to days of wasted time searching in the wrong area.

  • nicho

    What they mean is that the black boxes will stop pinging in 17 days — or shortly thereafter, not that the black boxes will cease to exist. When the boxes stop pinging, they will have to find them by other means, and that relies on knowing where the main fuselage wreckage is. That’s what happened with the Air France flight. They knew the general location of the boxes, but had to search for them. If they had the general location of the MH370 plane now, they could listen for the pings — unless the boxes were at tremendous depth — or in a hanger in Eastern Pakistan.

  • cole3244

    fox will have an unusual answer to that burning question i’m sure.

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