Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Underwater Robots And 'Black Box' Towed Pinger Locator Deployed In Search Effort [PHOTOS]

  @lukeydukeyl.villapaz@ibtimes.com on April 04 2014 12:35 PM

With the clock ticking on the battery life of missing Flight MH370's black box, the international search group has shifted its focus from the surface of the southern Indian Ocean to the sea floor.

The battery life of the Boeing 777's flight data recorder, commonly known as the black box, on board the Boeing 777-200ER estimated to expire on Monday, so search teams began employing the use of underwater tools on Friday in an effort to locate the black box of the Malaysia Airlines plane, which is believed to have gone down somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean. Among the tools being employed by the search teams is the Bluefin Robotics autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), named Bluefin-21, which is capable of searching and mapping the sea floor at a depth of 4500 meters, approximately 2.8 miles below sea level.

While the Bluefin-21 AUV is responsible for mapping the ocean floor through the use of sonar, the U.S. Navy has deployed a towed pinger locator devic that is capable of detecting and locating emergency pings from aircraft black boxes, such as the one on board Flight MH370. In addition to the U.S. Navy’s towed pinger locator, the Royal Navy has employed a similar device from onboard the HMS Echo.

Search efforts on Friday resulted in the discovery of several pieces of debris, none of which were associated with Flight MH370, according to the Australian Join Agency Coordination Center.

However, the international search group continues to scour the waters below for any sign of the missing plane, which had 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board.

Should the battery of Flight MH370’s black box die before it is located, it is possible that it may not be found for years, as in the case of Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.

Take a look at the current search efforts for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the photos below.

Malaysia Airlines MH370 - Bluefin 21

The Bluefin 21, the Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), is hoisted back on board the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the U.S. Navy April 4, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/Handout via Reuters

Flight MH370 AP-3C Orion

A crew member sits in the cockpit of a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft as it continues searching in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture taken April 1, 2014. Reuters/Kim Christian

Flight MH370 - Bluefin 21 3

A worker lowers from the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) towed pinger locator into the ocean during operational testing in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the U.S. Navy April 4, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/Handout via Reuters

Flight MH370 - Australian Search

Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Stephanie Went keeps watch for any sign of debris aboard the Australian Navy ship HMAS Toowoomba as it continues the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 4, 2014. Australian Defense Force/Handout via Reuters

Flight MH370 - Bluefin 21 2

The Bluefin 21, the Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), is hoisted back on board the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the U.S. Navy April 4, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/Handout via Reuters

Flight MH370 - Australian Search 2

Australian Navy ships the HMAS Success (top) and the HMAS Toowoomba rendezvous to conduct a Replenishment at Sea evolution as they continue the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 4, 2014. Australian Defense Force/Handout via Reuters

Flight MH370 - Australian Search 3

Australian Navy ships the HMAS Success (L) and the HMAS Toowoomba rendezvous to conduct a Replenishment at Sea evolution as they continue the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 4, 2014. Australian Defense Force/Handout via Reuters

Flight MH370 - Australian Search 4

Leading Seaman Aircrewman Joel Young looks out from Tiger75, an S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter, after it launched from the Australian Navy ship the HMAS Toowoomba as it continues the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 4, 2014. Australian Defense Force/Handout via Reuters

Flight MH370 - Australian Search 5

Tiger75, an S-70B-2 Seahawk, launches from the Australian Navy ship HMAS Toowoomba as it continues the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 4, 2014. Australian Defense Force/Handout via Reuters

Flight Mh370 -Towed Pinger Locator

A U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) towed pinger locator is pictured on a dock at HMAS Stirling naval base near Perth, March 30, 2014. Reuters/Jason Reed

Flight MH370 - briefing notes

Kojiro Tanaka, Head of the Japan Coast Guard mission, points to briefing notes regarding the search aboard the Japan Coast Guard Gulfstream V aircraft as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean looking for debris from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 April 1, 2014. Reuters/Paul Kane

Flight MH370 - P3 Orion

A Royal Australian Air Force P-3C Orion aircraft is pictured on the tarmac of RAAF Base Pearce near Perth, April 2, 2014. Reuters/Jason Reed

Flight MH370 - Japan

A crew member waves from the window of the aircraft as it departs RAAF Base Pearce near Perth April 3, 2014. Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak visited the Australian search base for missing Flight MH370 on Thursday as a nuclear-powered submarine joined the near-four week hunt that has so far failed to find any sign of the missing airliner and the 239 people on board. Reuters/Richard Polden

Flight MH370 - Smoke Canister

A crew member aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft prepares to launch a smoke canister to mark the position of an object spotted in the southern Indian Ocean during the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture taken April 1, 2014. Reuters/Kim Christian

Flight MH370 - Orion

Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force Commander Hidetsugu Iwamasa is pictured in front of one of their P-3C Orion aircraft currently at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth, April 4, 2014. Reuters/Jason Reed

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