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, the manufacturer tells CNN.The revelation leaves three possibilities, said Anish Patel, president of pinger manufacturer Dukane Seacom of Sarasota, Florida: 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 says.Malaysia Airlines did not respond Thursday to a question from CNN about whether the pingers on Flight 370 are compliant. But in an earlier e-mail last week about the airline's storage practices, Malaysia Airlines said, "We are unaware of any issue with the ULB (pinger) or its batteries."
"We don't perform the maintenance on the beacons; that's up to the airlines," Brecken said.
Dukane Seacom pingers have played a role in several aviation investigations, including TWA 800, Swiss Air 111 and Air France 447. In the Air France crash, a pinger detector was unable to find the pinger, and it took two years for searchers to find the wreckage.In that case, investigators recovered one pinger and attempted to test it to determine whether it had malfunctioned. But the pinger was too corroded and the tests were inconclusive, Patel said.
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