Aircraft Detects Possible Signal in Flight 370 Search

PHOTO: A Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion approaches RAAF Base Pearce as it arrives back from the on-going search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Perth, Australia, April 8, 2014.

An Australian aircraft detected a possible signal in the southern Indian Ocean Thursday, giving officials more assurance in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The Australian Navy P-3 Orion, which has been dropping sound-locating buoys into the water where previous signals were detected, picked up a “possible signal,” said Angus Houston, who is coordinating the search off Australia’s west coast.

“The acoustic data will require further analysis overnight but shows potential of being from a man-made source,” Houston said.

Search crews detected several "pings"

Four previous underwater signals have been detected in the area, with the sounds consistent with a plane’s flight recorders, or “black boxes.” The boxes’ locator beacons have a battery life of about a month, a period that passed two days ago.

Officials have decided to race against the life of the batteries, hoping for a few more pings to narrow the search.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: What Happens Now?

If that search is narrowed, a Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle will be deployed, but the Bluefin travels very slowly, using sonar to map the ocean floor.

The underwater search zone for Flight 370 -- which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board -- covers about 500 square miles, an ocean surface that features ridges and valleys.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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