Malaysia OKs new search by private company for missing plane

FILE - In this March 31, 2014 file photo, HMAS Success scans the southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia, as a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion flies over, while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Nearly three years after a Malaysian airliner vanished, it’s still possible, if unlikely, for a plane to disappear. But that’s changing with new satellites that will soon allow flights to be tracked in real time over oceans. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)

(AP) — Malaysia’s government said Saturday that it has approved a new attempt by a private company to find the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, nearly four years after its disappearance sparked one of aviation’s biggest mysteries.

The Houston, Texas-based company Ocean Infinity dispatched a search vessel this past week to look in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the plane, which disappeared March 8, 2014, on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members.

The governments of Malaysia, China and Australia called off the nearly three-year official search last January. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s final report on the search conceded that authorities were no closer to knowing the reasons for the Boeing 777’s disappearance, or its exact location.

“The basis of the offer from Ocean Infinity is based on ‘no cure, no fee,'” Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Saturday, meaning that payment will be made only if the company finds the wreckage.

Related Content: US company says it’s close to agreeing deal to restart MH370 search

“That means they are willing to search the area of 25,000 square kilometers (9,653 square miles) pointed out by the expert group near the Australian waters,” he said.

However, he said, “I don’t want to give too much hope … to the (next of kin).” He said his government was committed to continuing with the search.

He did not offer other details.

Ocean Infinity said in a statement that the search vessel Seabed Constructor, which left the South African port of Durban on Tuesday, was taking advantage of favorable weather to move toward “the vicinity of the possible search zone.”

In the initial search for the plane, a 52-day surface search covered an area of several million square kilometers (square miles) in the Indian Ocean west of Australia, before an underwater search mapped 710,000 square kilometers (274,000 square miles) of seabed at depths of up to 6,000 meters (20,000 feet). They were the largest aviation searches of their kind in history, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

Related Content: Report says mystery of Flight 370 is ‘almost inconceivable’

Despite other methods such as studying satellite imagery and investigating ocean drifts after debris from the plane washed ashore on islands in the eastern Indian Ocean and the east coast of Africa, the 1,046-day search was called off on Jan. 17, 2017.

However, the ATSB’s report said the understanding of where the plane may be is “better now than it has ever been,” partly as a result of studying debris that washed ashore in 2015 and 2016 that showed the plane was “not configured for a ditching at the end-of-flight,” meaning it had run out of fuel.

The search team also looked back at satellite imagery that showed objects in the ocean that may have been MH370 debris. The report said this analysis complemented work detailed in a 2016 review and identified an area of less than 25,000 square kilometers (9,650 square miles) — roughly the size of the U.S. state of Vermont — that “has the highest likelihood of containing MH370.”

The search was extremely difficult because no transmissions were received from the aircraft after its first 38 minutes of flight. Systems designed to automatically transmit the flight’s position failed to work after this point, the report said.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s