A U.S. marine exploration company has agreed to start a new search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 — the Boeing 777 jumbo jet that’s now been missing for almost four years.
Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester on Friday announced the deal between Ocean Infinity and the Malaysian government. The Texas-based explorer will search various sections of the Indian Ocean for additional wreckage from Flight 370, which disappeared on March 8, 2014.
The Australia Transport Safety Bureau has led the search efforts, since the plane is believed to have crashed in its jurisdiction. Malaysian and U.S. officials have also been involved in the hunt.
Malaysia entered into the deal with Ocean Infinity on a “no find, no fee” basis — a model typically applied to underwater searches aimed at retrieving sunken cargo.
A salvage company typically takes 80 to 90 percent of a cargo’s value, if it’s found. In the case of MH370, Ocean Infinity will accept a set fee from the Malaysian government.
Flight 370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard. All are presumed dead. The cause of the crash has not been determined.
Prior government searches of the ocean cost more than $200 million before official efforts were called off early this year. Only about 20 pieces of the plane have been found to date, after they washed up on islands of the African coast.
Ocean Infinity said it plans to concentrate on a search area of nearly 10,000 square-miles, which has been tagged by the ATSB as having a “high probability” of success.
Malaysia received three proposals to undertake the new search. Ocean Infinity was chosen over Dutch explorer Fugro and Malaysia’s TMS.
The ATSB issued its final report on the search earlier this month. Its conclusion said the location of MH370 could not be pinpointed, despite a large-scale search of about 300,000 square miles of ocean.
By Ed Adamczyk