The government of Malaysia has announced that it has signed a unique agreement with a U.S. oceanic research company to resume the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously disappeared in March of 2014.The private company, Ocean Infinity, based in Texas, has signed a speculative “no-find, no-fee” contract for 90 days that has the potential to reward the research company up to $70 million on a graduated fee scale based upon search results and the amount of area covered within the allotted time. The search will focus on an area in the Southern Indian Ocean approximately the size of Vermont that experts have narrowed down as having the best chances for success.
The company will use its vessel Seabed Constructor for the search. The vessel is outfittedwith a fleet of eight autonomous, non-tethered underwater vehicles fitted with high-tech cameras, sonars and sensors. It is believed that this new technology will be able to accurately map and search the area significantly more accurately, efficiently and at a much faster pace than the technology previously used in the search. “We have a realistic prospect of finding it,” said Ocean Infinity Chief Executive Oliver Plunkett. “While there can be no guarantees of locating the aircraft, we believe our system of multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously is well suited to the task at hand.” It has been reported that while the reward fee potential of the venture is speculative, the Malaysian government has agreed to underwrite the operating costs of the search effort and that two of its naval officers will be on board the search vessel as observers, participants and consultants. The vessel is on its way to the search area and search efforts are scheduled to start by Jan. 17.