The acoustic pingers believed to be on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s two black boxes were due for overhauls and battery replacements in 2012 but were never returned to their manufacturer, Anish Patel, president of pinger manufacturer Dukane Seacom of Sarasota, Florida, told CNN.
The revelation leaves three possibilities, according to Patel: The airline could have replaced the old pingers with new ones, it could have had another company perform the necessary maintenance, or it could have let the scheduled maintenance lapse, meaning the pingers would have a shortened battery life.
If the original batteries remain in the pingers, the battery life probably will have dropped from the required 30 days to 20 or 25 days, Patel said.
Malaysia Airlines did not respond April 3 to a question from CNN about whether the pingers on Flight 370 are compliant. But in an earlier e-mail about the airline’s storage practices, Malaysia Airlines said, “We are unaware of any issue with the ULB (pinger) or its batteries.”
“This battery is not replaceable,” the airline said.
On April 5, the Malaysia Airlines CEO said the acoustic pinger batteries on the airlines’ black boxes were due for replacement in June 2014.
Patel said the National Transportation Safety Board has told his company that it manufactured the pingers on Flight 370’s black boxes.
The devices were manufactured in late 2005 and late 2006 and were due for overhauls and new batteries in 2012, Patel said.
But “we have no record of those units ever coming back for a battery replacement,” the Indian American said.
Patel said Malaysia Airlines used to send pingers to Dukane Seacom, a division of Radiant Power Corp., for maintenance, but has not in the “last couple years.”
“Up until 2009, 2010, we used to see it on a regular basis. So they could have gone to another protocol such as doing it themselves, or they could have gone to another repair facility.”
Or it could have let the maintenance lapse, he said.
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