More pings raise hopes plane will be found soon

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In this April 9, 2014 photo provided by the Australian Defense Force, a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion flies past Australian Defense vessel Ocean Shield on a mission to drop sonar buoys to assist in the acoustic search of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean. The ship searching for the missing Malaysian jet has detected two more underwater signals that may be emanating from the aircraft’s black boxes, and the Australian official in charge of the search expressed hope Wednesday that the plane’s wreckage will soon be found. (AP Photo/Australian Defense Force, LSIS Bradley Darvill) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

In this April 9, 2014 photo provided by the Australian Defense Force, a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion flies past Australian Defense vessel Ocean Shield on a mission to drop sonar buoys to assist in the acoustic search of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean. The ship searching for the missing Malaysian jet has detected two more underwater signals that may be emanating from the aircraft’s black boxes, and the Australian official in charge of the search expressed hope Wednesday that the plane’s wreckage will soon be found. (AP Photo/Australian Defense Force, LSIS Bradley Darvill) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

This image provided by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, shows a map indicating the locations of signals detected by vessels looking for signs of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean. An Australian official overseeing the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane said underwater sounds picked up by equipment on an Australian navy ship are consistent with transmissions from black box recorders on a plane. (AP Photo/Joint Agency Coordination Centre) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

This image provided by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, shows a map indicating the locations of signals detected by vessels looking for signs of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean. An Australian official overseeing the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane said underwater sounds picked up by equipment on an Australian navy ship are consistent with transmissions from black box recorders on a plane. (AP Photo/Joint Agency Coordination Centre) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The chief coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Center Retired Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston gestures as he speaks at a press conference about the ongoing search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Perth, Australia, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Houston said a ship searching for the missing Malaysian jet has detected two more underwater signals that may be emanating from the aircraft’s black boxes, and expressed hope Wednesday that the plane’s wreckage will soon be found. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Royal Australian Navy commodore Peter Leavy speaks during a press conference about the ongoing search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Perth, Australia, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. A ship searching for the missing Malaysian jet has detected two more underwater signals that may be emanating from the aircraft’s black boxes, and Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search for the missing plane in the southern Indian Ocean, expressed hope Wednesday that the plane’s wreckage will soon be found. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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PERTH, Australia (AP) — The frustrating monthlong search for the Malaysian jetliner received a tremendous boost when a navy ship detected two more signals that most likely emanated from the aircraft’s black boxes. The Australian official coordinating the search expressed hope Wednesday that the wreckage will soon be found.

Angus Houston, head of a joint agency coordinating the search for the missing plane in the southern Indian Ocean, said that the Australian naval vessel Ocean Shield picked up the two signals on Tuesday, and that an analysis of two sounds detected in the same area on Saturday showed they were consistent with a plane’s black boxes.

“I’m now optimistic that we will find the aircraft, or what is left of the aircraft, in the not-too-distant future. But we haven’t found it yet, because this is a very challenging business,” Houston said at a news conference in Perth, the hub for the search operation.

The signals detected 1,645 kilometers (1,020 miles) northwest of Perth are the strongest indication yet that the plane crashed and is now lying at the bottom of the ocean in the area where the search is now focused. Still, Houston warned he could not yet conclude that searchers had pinpointed Flight 370’s crash site.

“I think that we’re looking in the right area, but I’m not prepared to say, to confirm, anything until such time as somebody lays eyes on the wreckage,” he said.

Finding the black boxes quickly is a matter of urgency because their locator beacons have a battery life of only about a month, and Tuesday marked exactly one month since the plane vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board.

If the beacons blink off before the black boxes’ location can be determined, finding them in such deep water — about 4,500 meters, or 15,000 feet — would be an immensely difficult, if not impossible, task.

The Ocean Shield first detected underwater sounds on Saturday before losing them, but managed to pick them up again on Tuesday, Houston said. The ship is equipped with a U.S. Navy towed pinger locator that is designed to detect signals from a plane’s two black boxes — the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

A data analysis of the signals heard Saturday determined they were distinct, man-made and pulsed consistently, Houston said, indicating they were coming from a plane’s black box.

“They believe the signals to be consistent with the specification and description of a flight data recorder,” he said.

To assist the Ocean Shield, the Australian navy on Wednesday began using parachutes to drop a series of buoys in a pattern near where the signals

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