The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane by the Bluefin-21 drone will wind up in days ahead of commercially contracted technology being used for a deeper ocean hunt.
The Bluefin-21, operating from the Australian navy’s Ocean Shield vessel, has been searching an area of the Indian Ocean where four acoustic signals were detected in early April.
Retired defence chief Angus Houston, who has previously said the sounds were man-made, on Thursday said it was still too early to discount the pings amid speculation they might not be from flight MH370’s black box after all.
“They are still being analysed,” Mr Houston told ABC TV.
“We are ensuring that nothing has been overlooked and that everything has been considered.”
Work also continues to review and analyse all the data and information relating to the likely flight path of MH370, which was largely provided by British company Inmarsat.
Mr Houston said the Joint Agency Coordination Centre would make an announcement about that “extensive and very robust process of review” in the future.
He was certain the Boeing 777 wound up in the Indian Ocean and searchers were looking in the “right broad area”.
MH370 went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
JACC said Ocean Shield was expected to depart the search area on Wednesday and return to the West Australian fleet base on Saturday where the Bluefin-21 would be demobilised.
In the meantime, it will continue operating within its depth operating limits.
Two Chinese ships, the Haixun 01 and Zhu Kezhen, are on their way to the search area to map the ocean floor in preparation for the deep ocean technology, which, like the Bluefin-21, will use side-scan sonar to hunt for wreckage.