Australia Is About To Find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Or So It Thinks

Finally, investigators might be close to tracking down Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — or, at least, the area where it crashed. Two more signals that could've come from Flight 370's black boxes have been heard by an Australian ship in the same area where Chinese searchers picked up two similar pings over the weekend. The four total signals were detected within a 17-mile search area, significantly narrowing a hunt that has, at its largest, stretched across half the globe.

So far, this seems to be the best lead investigators have had. The latest signals were detected by an Australian ship called the Ocean Shield, prompting Australia to host a news conference on Wednesday to share the latest findings. Angus Houston, who's coordinating Australia's search, told press the plane is closer than ever to being found.

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. ... 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.

Houston's reticence is likely a good call, considering the search so far has led to several false leads and potentially unfounded accusations directed at the plane's pilots.

Thirty days have passed since the plane disappeared from radar on March 8, meaning the plane's black box is on the verge of expiring. But battery life can vary, and analysts have concluded that the pings likely came from an electronic device, rather than marine life that can sound similar on the listening devices.

Still, if the signals did come from the plane, the black boxes are reaching the end of their ability to send them out. This makes the search an urgent one, Houston said.

The signals are getting weaker, which means we're either moving away from the search area or the pinger batteries are dying. ... So we need to, as we say in Australia, "make hay while the sun shines."