Missing plane sent signals to satellite for hours

Pilots of a Royal Malaysian Air Force CN-235 aircraft manage their plane during a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane over the waters at Malacca straits, Malaysia, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Pilots of a Royal Malaysian Air Force CN-235 aircraft manage their plane during a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane over the waters at Malacca straits, Malaysia, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says a Malaysia Airlines plane was sending signals to a satellite for four hours after the aircraft went missing, an indication that it was still flying.

The official said the Boeing 777-200 wasn’t transmitting data to the satellite, but sending out a signal to establish contact. Boeing offers a satellite service that can receive a stream of data during flight on how the aircraft is functioning.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said Malaysia Airlines didn’t subscribe to that service, but the system was automatically pinging the satellite anyway.

The official also said some messages involving a different data service were received for a short time after the plane’s transponder went silent.

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