One of the most mysterious air disasters we’ve ever seen involves MH370, which was a Malaysia 777-200 carrying 239 people that mysteriously went missing while enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It’s crazy to think that this happened almost four years ago.
There are still many theories as to what happened, ranging from a catastrophic technical failure, to a horrible murder plot from the captain. While small parts of the plane have been found, a vast majority of the plane hasn’t been, which is shocking given how advanced technology is nowadays.
After an investigation spanning many years, covering 120,000 square kilometers, and costing hundreds of millions of dollars, the search for MH370 was finally called off in early 2017. At the time, Chinese, Australian, and Malaysian authorities issued the following joint statement:
“Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modeling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft. The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness.”
About a year after the search was called off, it looks like it’s resuming again, in a most interesting way. Specifically, US seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity is being given the task of finding MH370 wreckage within 90 days. The crazy part? This is entirely on a “no-cure, no-fee” basis. If they find nothing, they get nothing. If they do find something, they’ll get paid as much as $70 million. The search begins on January 17, meaning they’ll have until mid-April to find the wreckage. Per Reuters:
Ocean Infinity will be paid $20 million if the plane is found within 5,000 square km, $30 million if it is found within 10,000 square km and $50 million if it is found within an area of 25,000 square km. Beyond that area, Ocean Infinity will receive $70 million, Mr Liow said.
Its priority is to locate the wreckage or the flight and cockpit recorders, and present credible evidence to confirm their location within 90 days, he added.
The Ocean Infinity vessel has a crew of 65 people, and carries eight autonomous underwater vehicles that will search the floor of the ocean. The ship should be able to cover 60,000 square kilometers in 90 days, which is four times faster than the previous efforts.
At this point it’s interesting that this is entirely being contracted out to a private company. Ocean Infinity must be extremely confident that they’ll find the plane, or else they presumably wouldn’t be willing to do this for no compensation if they don’t find the plane.
Here’s to hoping they find more wreckage from the plane. If nothing else, I imagine it will be comforting for the families of the victims to at least have a better sense of what happened. However, at this point one has to wonder just how spread out the wreckage will be given the current of the ocean, and also how much they’d be able to determine from their findings.