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TODAY   |  April 07, 2014

Flight expert: New signals may be ‘breakthrough’

Greg Feith, a former investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, and Bob Hager, an aviation correspondent for NBC News, join TODAY to discuss the latest news on the missing flight.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> ntsb. bog hagan was a longtime correspondent with nbc news. this ship was in contact with this pinger for two hours, 20 minutes in one direction. it turned around, caught it for 13 minutes in the other direction. it's a huge development.

>> yeah, i think so, too. we've had a lot of ups and downs in this. but this looks like the beginnings of a breakthrough. at least it gets them in the right area, you know? so that's very important, as opposed to searching this huge area of the ocean.

>> so as katy just mentioned, they mark this location with a gps right now. they go back, try to triangulate this. what are we talking about realistically?

>> i think she's right. could be days, weeks, months. it can take a long time. this is very, very slow work. but the point is, now, even if the pinger eventually quits, at least they're in the general area and they might even be able to find it without a pinger.

>> they can get an autonomous underwater device in there and start to map the bottom of the ocean.

>> they do it with side scan radar, side scan sonar , which is like an underwater radar, and then finally you start taking still pictures down there, see if you can see it.

>> greg, obviously this comes in the nick of time . we've been talking about the battery life on those devices, and it has to be nearing the end.

>> absolutely, matt. that's the critical thing. we have the pings. the bad thing is for the second pass, they didn't have it for the same duration. they had to go deeper to get it. the signal itself may be fading. so they're really going to have to work hard to try and triangulate and get a position for the underwater rov.

>> and now we need to know what happened. if they locate the black boxes and the wreckage, we want to know what happened on that flight. just real quickly, if you will, remind me what the cockpit voice recorder might tell them and the flight data recorder .

>> if the cockpit voice recorder has survivsurvived, it probably won't have a lot of information on it because it only records for two hours. this is a six to seven-hour flight, it's already overwritten itself, unless, of course, the pilot may have pulled the circuit breaker . the flight data recorder is going to tell us what happened as far as what the airplane was doing, but it's not going to tell us why or how it happened. but it will give us some parameters to tell us whether the automation was flying, that is the auto pilot , or whether there were physical inputs made by the captain and/or first officer.

>> once again, a promising development. we'll keep everyone posted. greg, thank you very much. bob hagar, thanks to you as well.