The search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has expanded into a new area, after exhausting the main search zone without finding the plane.
The US company Ocean Infinity has exhausted a 25,000km ‘priority area’ identified by Australian experts as MH370’s most likely resting place. They were so confident of success that they agreed they would only be paid if the missing aircraft was found.
Nearly 80,000 square kilometres have been searched since January without finding any sign of the wreckage as the latest search enters its final days. However, the company remains determined.
“Whilst it’s disappointing there has been no sign of MH370 in the Australian Transport Safety Bureau search area and further north, there is still some search time remaining,” reports quoted Ocean Infinity chief executive officer Oliver Plunkett said.
“Everyone at Ocean Infinity remains absolutely determined for the remainder of the search.
“As the team head in to port after another six weeks’ hard work, I am pleased to say our technology has performed exceptionally well throughout the search and that we have collected significant amounts of high quality data in which we have full confidence. The results from the highly challenging Broken Ridge feature are particularly impressive.”
Ocean Infinity said in an update that it had scanned up to 1300 square kilometres per day since launching its mission far off the west coast of Australia in late January. It has searched both inside and outside an area identified by Australian authorities and said that its lack of success had led it to look further north than the main search area. The search enters its final phase this week, more than four years after it disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Seabed Constructor is in Fremantle for a scheduled refuelling stop, and will head out for the final leg of its search on Tuesday. The search will officially end in the coming weeks when the weather in the southern Indian Ocean worsens.
Flight 370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people aboard. No transmissions were received from the aircraft after its first 38 minutes of flight, but it is believed to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean based on the drift patterns of crash debris that washed ashore on distant beaches.
The governments of Malaysia, China and Australia called off the nearly three-year official search in January 2017. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s final report on the search conceded authorities were no closer to knowing the reasons for the plane’s disappearance or its exact location.
In January, the Malaysian government pledged to pay Texas-based Ocean Infinity up to $70 million if it could find the wreckage or black boxes of the aircraft within 90 days. Ocean Infinity uses up to eight autonomous vehicles capable of operating in depths up to 6000 metres (19,685 feet), and Plunkett had launched the search by saying his company had “a realistic prospect” of finding the aircraft.