Time, Batteries Running Out on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ‘Black Box’

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

As the chances dim for finding Malaysia Airlines 3786.KU -2.38% Flight 370’s “black box” flight recorders before the batteries in their locator beacons run out, Malaysian and Australian leaders sought to inject new momentum into a search of the southern Indian Ocean that has yet to find plane wreckage.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met aircrews involved in the multinational search for Flight 370 at Pearce air base, near Perth, on Thursday. The visit is Mr. Najib’s first to Australia since the focus of the search swung abruptly to the southern Indian Ocean on March 20, based on satellite images of possible plane debris. So far, nothing related to the missing plane has been found.

Malaysian investigators still believe Flight 370 crashed in the ocean when it ran out of fuel—thousands of kilometers from the nearest airport—hours after disappearing from civilian radar on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board.

“The search area is vast and conditions are not easy, but the new refined search area has given us new hope,” Mr. Najib told reporters.

But with uncertainty persisting about whether it is the right area, investigators from five countries, including the U.S. and China, are continuing to analyze satellite and communications data that shed light on how the plane was traveling, including its speed and altitude.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday described the search as possibly the most difficult in human history and reiterated that there was no certainty of a breakthrough.

“On the basis of just small pieces of information, we are putting the jigsaw together,” he said. “Every day we have a higher degree of confidence that we know more about what happened to this ill-fated flight.”