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The news that a pinger locator has detected signals consistent with transmissions from an aircraft black box is “very encouraging” but the mystery of missing Flight MH370 remains far from being solved, an aviation expert said Monday.

“It’s taken everybody by surprise that they have managed to find a ping,” Adrian Gjertsen, of U.K.-based Airsupport Aviation Services Limited, told NBC News “It’s very encouraging but even if it is from the plane, it will be extremely difficult to recover from the ocean.”

While the black box is a useful tool it is not like a video recorder and it only provides raw data that allows investigators to build a scenario of what might have happened, he added.

"The cockpit voice recorder is unlikely to be of any use," Gjertsen said. "They are recorded on a continuous loop so after around two hours it will have recorded over what was on there earlier. So it’s of less interest, because the period that is of most importance is when it lost communication up to seven or so hours earlier."

Instead they will take the raw data including the altitude and flight speed, before surmising a scenario on what caused the plane to make turns or climb and create a computer scenario, he said.

Malaysia's transport minister later called the possible pings the "most promising lead we have had" since the jet vanished on March. 8. Hishamuddin Hussein added that he was unable to rule out that some of the 239 people aboard the Boeing 777 remained alive.

"Miracles do happen," Hishamuddin said. "We continue to hope and pray for survivors."

- Henry Austin