PERTH, April 11 – An Australian aircraft picked up a possible signal while conducting an acoustic search in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean Thursday afternoon. This was confirmed by Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) chief coordinator Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Angus Houston. “While conducting an acoustic search this afternoon, an RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft detected a possible signal in the vicinity of the Australian Defence Vessel, Ocean Shield,” he said in a statement. He said the acoustic data would require further analysis overnight but “shows potential of being from a man-made source”. Houston said he would provide a further update if, and when, further information became available.

Several signal transmissions, which could be from the plane’s flight recorders, had been detected since Friday. The first two pulse signals were reportedly detected on Friday and Saturday by a Chinese vessel involved in the search operation, while four other signals were picked up by the Ocean Shield, two each on Saturday and Tuesday. The aircraft s black box, comprising a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder, may unlock the questions as to what happened to MH370 which veered thousands of kilometres from its intended Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing route on March 8. Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the KL International Airport at 12.41am and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later, while over the South China Sea.

It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day. A multinational search was mounted for the aircraft, first in the South China Sea and then, after it was learned that the plane had veered off course, along two corridors – the northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand and the southern corridor, from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. Following analysis of satellite data, it was concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced on March 24, 17 days after the disappearance of the aircraft, that Flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”. The search continues there.

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