Malaysia Airline Black Box Pings Are Fading Fast, Which Means We're Really Running Out of Time

It's now been thirty-six days since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared halfway through its journey to Vietnam, and the search is becoming increasingly urgent. Two pings that might've been emitted by the jet's black boxes were heard a week ago by the Australian ship Ocean Shield, and another two signals were detected in roughly the same area on Tuesday — but on Saturday, Australia's Prime Minister said the signals were fading, and fast.

Fourteen ships, one civil aircraft and nine military aircraft scoured the seas Saturday, roughly 1,448 miles northwest of Perth, looking for the exact spot the pings were coming from. They need to be precise — as soon as they're confident they've pinpointed a position, they'll deploy a robotic submersible to hunt for the wreckage. "We have to stick with the TPL for just a little while longer to make sure we have exhausted every ounce of power coming from the battery through the black boxes," said Cmdr. William Marks.

Hopefully, the painstaking process will prove worthwhile. On Saturday, Australian Prime Minister said again that he was confident that the signals were in fact from missing jet's black box, though finding it would be a "massive, massive task."

"No one should underestimate the difficulties of the task still ahead of us," he said. "[We have] very considerably narrowed down the search area, but trying to locate anything 4.5 kilometers beneath the surface of the ocean about 1,000 kilometers from land is a massive, massive task and it is likely to continue for a long time to come."

With a battery life of only 30 days, the cockpit voice recorder has been the searchers’ main hope for figuring out what happened to the Boeing 777 — and we're now on day 36 of the jet's disappearance. In short, the signal is "starting to fade, and we are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires," Abbott said.