New MH370 Search Begins

Seabed Constructor
Seabed Constructor

Published Jan 7, 2018 10:51 AM by The Maritime Executive

The Malaysian government has approved a new search program for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

The plane went missing in the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. 

The official, $200 million search for the plane continued for 1,046 days until January 17, 2017 when it was suspended in accordance with a decision made by the governments of Malaysia, Australia and China. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau released its final report in October last year, saying it is "almost inconceivable" the aircraft has not been found.

The U.S.-based company Ocean Infinity has now sent the multi-purpose offshore vessel Seabed Constructor to search an area of around 25,000 square kilometers (9,600 square miles).

The Ocean Infinity offer has been accepted on a no cure, no pay basis, said Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai on Saturday.

The initial surface search and the subsequent underwater search for the missing plane were the largest searches of their type in aviation history. The 52 days of the surface search involving aircraft and surface vessels covered an area of several million square kilometers. The underwater search started with a bathymetry survey which continued as required throughout the underwater search and has mapped a total of 710,000 square kilometers of Indian Ocean seafloor, the largest ever single hydrographic survey. The high resolution sonar search covered an area in excess of 120,000 square kilometers, also the largest ever search or survey of its kind. 

There were no transmissions received from the aircraft after the first 38 minutes of the flight. Systems designed to automatically transmit the aircraft’s position including the transponder and the aircraft communications addressing and reporting system failed to transmit the aircraft’s position after this time. Subsequent analysis of radar and satellite communication data revealed the aircraft had actually continued to fly for a further seven hours. Its last position was positively fixed at the northern tip of Sumatra by the surveillance systems operating that night, six hours before it ended the flight in the southern Indian Ocean.

Re-analysis of satellite imagery taken on March 23, 2014 has identified a range of objects which may be MH370 debris. This analysis identifies an area of less than 25,000 square kilometers which has the highest likelihood of containing MH370.