Malaysia Offers US Firm Ocean Infinity $70 Million To Find Missing Plane MH370

| January 11 , 2018 , 15:00 IST

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which vanished on March 8, 2014, remains a mystery to this day. A year after the official search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean was called off by Malaysia, Australia and China, the government of Malaysia on Wednesday said that it would pay US firm Ocean Infinity up to $70 million for finding the wreckage or black boxes of the MH370 flight within 3 months.

According to the Washington Post, the Malaysian government signed a "no cure, no fee" deal with the Texas-based company to continue the search for the plane.

The Transport Minister of Malaysia, Liow Tiong Lai said that experts had identified a new 25,000 square kilometre (9,650 square mile) area where there was an 85 percent chance of finding remnants of the missing flight.

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“The primary mission by Ocean Infinity is to identify the location of the wreckage and/or both of the flight recorders ... and present a considerable and credible evidence to confirm the exact location of the two main items,” Lai said at a press conference.

If Ocean Infinity succeeds in their mission within 3 months, they will receive payment based on the size of the area they had searched. As per Lai, the Malaysian government would pay Ocean Infinity $20 million for a successful search of 5,000 square kilometres, $30 million for 15,000 square kilometres, $50 million for 25,000 square kilometres and $70 million if the remnants of the flight are found beyond the identified area.

The search vessel of Ocean Infinity, the Seabed Constructor already left the South African port of Durban last week company Chief Executive Oliver Plunkett said, adding that it is expected to reach the southern Indian Ocean by January 17 to launch the hunt.

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In order to find the remnants of the flight, 8 autonomous underwater vehicles, consisting of drones equipped with high-tech sonars and sensors would be dispatched into the water to map the seabed. Plunkett estimated that the underwater drones can cover an area of 1,200 square kms in a day, and complete 25,000 square kilometres target within a month.

“We have a realistic prospect of finding it,” Plunkett said.

“While there can be no guarantees of locating the aircraft, we believe our system of multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously is well suited to the task at hand,” he added.

Director of Blue Water Recoveries Ltd, underwater wreck hunter David Mearns termed the US firm's plan as the "best chance yet" to find debris from the missing flight.

“There are no guarantees in a search of this type. However, notwithstanding that uncertainty, this upcoming search is the best chance yet that the aircraft wreckage will be found,” Mearns said.

The Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had been flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with a total of 239 people on board when it disappeared in March 2014.