Are Pings in Indian Ocean Another False Lead?

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The prime minister of Australia says authorities are confident that signals pulsing in the Indian Ocean are from the missing Malaysian jet — but an air-disaster expert cautioned Friday that it could just be old oceanography equipment.

Greg Feith, a former investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board and an NBC News analyst, said that not much equipment sends signals over the frequency 37.5 kilohertz.

“If it is some sort of manmade pinger, as they have described this — this is a manmade signal — it’ll be interesting to find out what it is,” he said. “It could be some used oceanography-type equipment that’s been left behind.”

“There’s not much that has that pinger technology that sits on 37.5 kilohertz, so it’s very few items,” he said. “If it isn’t the airplane, then, again, you know, it’s anybody’s guess.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in Shanghai that his government is “very confident” that it knows the position of the jet’s so-called black box within miles.

But Friday, the man leading the search said latest acoustic signal detected was unlikely to be from the missing plane and there had been no major breakthrough.

Analysis of the most recent signal, captured by a listening device buoy and relayed to an Australian ship on Thursday, was unlikely to be related to the aircraft's black boxes, Angus Houston, said in a statement.

Ships, towing devices specially tuned to listen for underwater pings, have detected four signals consistent with an airplane’s black box. The black box from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, could lose battery power any day.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.