PUTRAJAYA — Jan. 10, 2018: Malaysia today signed an agreement with United States-based seabed exploration company Ocean Infinity Limited to begin a new search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 which vanished in 2014.
The memorandum of understanding was signed by Department of Civil Aviation Director-General Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman and Ocean Infinity Chief Executive Officer Oliver Plunkett at a ceremony witnessed by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
According to Bernama, Liow said the search is expected to commence in the middle of this month, with the Seabed Constructor vessel covering 25,000 square kilometres within 90 days.
The priority search area in the southern Indian Ocean is based on a ‘no cure, no fee’ basis, which meant that payment will only be made when the debris of the missing jetliner is found and confirmed by a third party.
The primary mission by Ocean Infinity is to identify the location of the debris field, wreckage and or both of the flight recorders – cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder – and present considerable and credible evidence to confirm the exact location of the main items.
Australia, China and Malaysia had in January last year suspended the search for MH370 when traces of the Boeing 777 could not be found in the 120,000 sq km search area, also in the southern Indian Ocean.
Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014. It had 239 passengers and crew members on board.
Liow explained that payment to Ocean Infinity will be subjected to the area where the wreckage is located based on the division of the search area as in the agreement.
For the first 5,000 sq km primary search area, if any item is found, the company will be paid US$20 million and $30 million for the subsequent 10,000 sq km secondary search area.
This will be followed by $50 million for another 10,000 sq km tertiary search area and $70 million for an additional supplementary search area which is beyond 25,000 sq km.
Payment will be fully borne by the Malaysian government.
Payment will only be given if Ocean Infinity finds the debris field, not just a piece of wreckage and/or the flight recorder, and receives strong confirmation from experts.
Plunkett said although Ocean Infinity ias a new business which was established at the end of 2015, it is a technology-based company with the world’s most advanced fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), packed with a variety of sensors, detectors and cameras to move on their own and come back with information which would be processed on board the ship.
For this latest search, eight AUV will go down to the seabed consecutively, with sonar search instrument attached on them to identify the wreckage as quickly as possible and be able to cover roughly 1,200 sq km daily
“With our experience of 6,100 hours of AUV dive time in a variety of terrains and projects like Gulf stream and coast of the United States, and our capability of operating in 5,860 metres deep for collection of high resolution data at record breaking speeds, we are able to finish our first 5,000 sq km search in the first four weeks. Then, we have roughly 60 days to carry on looking if we haven’t found MH370,” he noted.