Report: MH370 sea search may resume soon with US firm in lead bid

A woman looks at messages of support left for family members and passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur March 18, 2014. — Reuters pic
A woman looks at messages of support left for family members and passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur March 18, 2014. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 ― The Malaysian government is expected to announce a fresh search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 this week, an Australian newspaper reported today.

A private American company, Ocean Infinity, will be leading the search and will charge no fees until the Boeing 777 is found, The West Australian quoted sources familiar with the matter as saying.

“A ‘no-find, no-fee’ offer by US company Ocean Infinity is understood to be the favoured option, although Dutch company Fugro, which was involved in the original search, is believed to have countered with a low-fee proposal,” the paper said.

Ocean Infinity will deploy six HUGIN autonomous underwater vehicles capable of operating at depths of up to 6,000m to collect high-resolution data as part of the search effort.

The vehicles are reportedly able to cover a large area with “record-breaking speeds”.

Talks of a new search for the missing plane resurfaced after Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai told the Department of Civil Aviation to comb through the final Australian Transport Safety Bureau report on the search for “credible evidence” on the crash site.

A two-year sweep of the original 120,000sq/km search area failed to find any sign of the wreckage.

The search was ended by the Malaysian, Australian and Chinese governments in January this year.

Since then new findings from drift and satellite imagery modelling has led Australian scientists to believe they have pinpointed the probable site for the wreckage of the plane with unprecedented accuracy, the paper noted.

The studies have significantly boosted confidence that the wreckage of the Boeing 777, which went missing in March, 2014, with 239 people aboard, is in an area of 5,000sq/km just to the north and west of the original search area.

That location is about 2,000km west-southwest of Perth.