Private company will resume search for missing MH370 plane

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 will resume after the Malaysian government signed a deal with an American underwater survey company

The Malaysian government signed a deal on Wednesday to pay a U.S. seabed exploration firm up to $50 million if it finds the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft MH370 in a new search area in the Southern Indian ocean.

US firm Ocean Infinity will only be paid if it finds the aircraft. The search will begin on 17 Janury of this year.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the country has an "unwavering commitment to solving the mystery of MH370".

The plane disappeared on 8 March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 people on board.

Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless $157 million search of an area of 120,000 sq. km in January last year, despite investigators urging the search be extended to a 25,000-square-km area further to the north.

This led to protests from the relatives of those who were on board.

The search is expected to be completed within 90 days, he told a news conference.

“As we speak, the vessel, Seabed Constructor, is on her way to the search area, taking advantage of favorable weather conditions in the South Indian ocean,” Liow said in a statement.

The search for the missing plane ended Janury last year
The search for the missing plane ended Janury last year

The vessel will have 65 crew, including two government representatives drawn from the Malaysian navy.

Ocean Infinity’s priority is to locate the wreckage or the black box recorders - flight and cockpit recorders - or both, and present credible evidence to confirm their location, Liow added.

If the plane is found in the first 5,000 sq km of the search area, a fee of $20m will be paid. This sum will increase incrementally up until $70m. All searches must be completed within 90 days.

Malaysia's transport minister said that, after examining the expert view, "there was an 85% probability of finding the wreckage in these new areas".

He said the mission of the search was to find the wreckage of the plane and its two flight recorders.

Last week, Ocean Infinity moved the vessel closer to a possible search area. The vessel left Durban, South Africa, on 2 January and was headed to Perth, Australia, Reuters shipping data showed.

The MH370 debris could furnish clues to events on board before the aircraft crashed. There have been competing theories that it suffered mechanical failure or was intentionally flown off course.

Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off the plane’s transponder before diverting it thousands of miles out over the Indian Ocean.

At least three pieces of aircraft debris collected from sites on Indian Ocean islands and along Africa’s east coast have been confirmed as being from the missing plane.

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