After almost four years since the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the search will pass into the hands of the private company Ocean Infinity.
After vanishing between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Beijing, China in March 2014, the flight carrying 239 passengers remained unfound by Australian, Chinese and Malaysian efforts cumulatively costing $157 million by January 2017.
Only three fragments of MH370 have been found, Al Jazeera reported. All were on western Indian Ocean shores and included a two-meter wing part called a flaperon. An Australian report explained that previous searches were difficult because the systems designed to transmit the plane’s location failed to transmit 38 minutes into the flight.
The US-based company Ocean Infinity is taking over to look for debris, as the governments have already allocated a significant amount of money towards finding a single plane. The company’s search vessel Seabed Constructor left the South African port of Durban on Tuesday and is moving towards the search zone vicinity, the company said in a statement.
The deal incentivizes the company because they’re only paid upon finding the wreck: “the basis of the offer from Ocean Infinity is based on ‘no cure, no fee,” Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said on Saturday. “They are willing to search the area of 25,000 square kilometers pointed out by the expert group near the Australian waters.”
The long-awaited agreement to continue the search for #MH370 is now in hand. This will be an opportunity for @Ocean_Infinity to help solve a mystery while show-casing a team of advanced, autonomous underwater vehicles. Amazing.https://t.co/Hjz2CrwY4h https://t.co/cujtpsCYdN
— Victor Iannello (@RadiantPhysics) January 5, 2018
It’s not that the governments that participated in the search weren’t motivated, but the private company’s purpose for existing is underwater survey, as boasted on their website:
“With multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously utilizing innovative technology, we are able to survey huge swathes of the seabed, quickly and with outstanding accuracy. We can operate in shallow waters but excel in extreme depths, working in dynamic environments ranging from the Tropics to the Arctic ice.”
The company claims to have world’s most advanced fleet of autonomous vehicles.
— Mike Chillit (@MikeChillit) January 3, 2018
The Seabed Constructor is well prepared to handle the mission of finding the missing plane. According to Ocean Infinity’s website, it’s equipped with remotely operated vehicles (WROVs) and a fibre rope winch system among other equipment and technology: “recovery of items identified on the seabed… can be brought to the surface using a 250 t main crane.”
The Constructor has impressive features including reduced fuel consumption and exhaust emission, excellent speed and sea keeping properties, and a low level of sound and vibration.
Despite Ocean Infinity’s capabilities, not everyone is so confident in their ability to find the missing flight. Australian Transport Minister Barnaby Joyce told Australian Broadcasting Corp, “I have, to be quite frank, some concerns as to whether it will be found.”
Despite doubts, the fact that a private company took the job shows hope in that they’re investing time and money into a project they believe will be successful, or else they wouldn’t be doing it.