If search teams are able to find debris confirmed to be from the plane, it will help officials figure out roughly where the aircraft went down.
Aviation journalist Jeff Wise explained some of the process on "New Day."
Officials would then be able to focus the search under the water to try to find larger pieces of wreckage and the all-important flight data recorder, which may hold vital clues about what happened on board the night the plane disappeared.
U.S. hardware designed to help with that task arrived Wednesday in Perth, the western Australian city that is the base for the search efforts.
The United States sent a Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle, which can search for submerged objects at depths as low as 14,700 feet (about 4,500 meters), and a TPL-25, a giant listening device that can help pinpoint the location of pings from the flight data recorder. Towed behind a ship, the TPL-25 can detect pings at a maximum depth of 20,000 feet (about 6,100 meters).
Time is against that part of the search though as the plane's pinger is expected to run out of power within the next two weeks. The Indian Ocean has an average depth of about 13,000 feet (about 4,000 meters).