KUALA LUMPUR: The search for the missing MH370 could begin anew early next year, once the Malaysian government finalises a contract with international subsea exploration company Ocean Infinity.
The Australian newspaper reported that Ocean Infinity had indicated it would use far more advanced technology to conduct the search than that used previously.
It plans, for instance, to use eight pilotless miniature submarines at any one time to run sonar scanning missions.
The search is likely to be in a new area of the Indian Ocean, immediately to the north of the last one.
Several months ago, Houston-based Ocean Infinity had made a “no-find, no-fee” proposal to the Malaysian government that it would assume full financial risk for a renewed search, claiming a payment only if it found the aircraft, according to the report.
On Oct 26, Deputy Transport Minister Ab Aziz Kaprawi told the Dewan Rakyat that Malaysia might have to fork up to US$70 million (RM296.35 million) for this.
He had said the MH370 Response Team was in talks with Ocean Infinity, including terms of a contract and the fees to be paid.
Among the terms will be that plane manufacturer Boeing will have to certify that the wreckage does indeed belong to MH370.
The Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board in what remains one of the world’s greatest unsolved aviation mysteries.
The Australian quoted Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester as saying that at Malaysia’s request, Australia would provide technical assistance to the Malaysian government and Ocean Infinity.
“Australia has developed considerable experience given its role in the search to date, and stands ready to support the extended search if it goes ahead,” Chester was quoted as saying.
The Australian quoted sources as saying that the Australian government, which contributed to the cost of the previous two-year search, would not be a contributor to Ocean Infinity’s “success fee”.
The report said many aviation experts believed that the previous search had failed because the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) assumptions were flawed.
The aircraft reversed course about 40 minutes into a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with its radar transponder turned off and no radio communication.
The failed search run by the ATSB scoured 120,000sq km of the southern Indian Ocean, where automatic satellite tracking data indicates MH370 came down.
The Australian report said the ATSB identified a new potential search area of 25,000sq km immediately to the north of the last one, and that Chester had indicated that this is where Ocean Infinity will look.