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‘Technological leap’ offers fresh hope of finding MH370   

‘Technological leap’ offers fresh hope of finding MH370   

WEDNESDAY, January 10, 2018
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Salvage firm to receive up to $70m if missing jet-liner located

Malaysia signed a deal with an American firm yesterday to resume the search for MH370 almost four years after the plane disappeared, with the company to receive up to $70 million if successful.
Australia’s 9News reports that “major leap in technology” has raised hopes of finding the plane.
The fresh hunt, which will last 90 days, is expected to start in the next few days when a high-tech vessel leased by the seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity reaches a new search zone in the southern Indian Ocean.
The Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people – mostly from China – on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, triggering one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.
No sign of the plane was found in a 120,000-square-kilometre search zone selected by satellite analysis of the jet’s likely trajectory. 
The governments of Malaysia, China and Australia called off the nearly three-year official search in January last year. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s final report on the search conceded that authorities were no closer to knowing the reasons for the plane’s disappearance, or its exact location.
Top air crash investigator John Cox has said that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s “ghost flight” and “death dive” theories are wrong. He says evidence from recovered wing flaps suggests the pilot was flying the aircraft until the end. Last month the former US pilot, who has assisted the US National Transportation Safety Board on air-crash investigations, reiterated his conviction that the pilot ditched MH370. 
Three firms submitted bids to resume the hunt privately and after lengthy negotiations, the Malaysian government agreed to engage Ocean Infinity on a “no find, no fee” basis.
“I would like to reiterate our unwavering commitment towards solving the mystery of MH370,” Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday at a signing ceremony for the deal.
The new search zone is an area of approximately 25,000-square-kilometres in the Indian Ocean.
If the company finds the Boeing 777, the amount they are paid will depend on where it was located, said Liow. 
If it is found within the first 5,000 square kilometres, they will receive $20 million. The amount rises gradually to a maximum of $70 million if the jet is found outside the 25,000 square kilometre search zone.
Relatives of MH370 passengers welcomed the decision.
“We are grateful the Malaysian government is resuming the search for MH370,” said VPR Nathan, whose wife Anne Daisy was on the plane.
“We do not know what happened, we need to know what happened before we can get closure.”
The ship that will conduct the hunt is a Norwegian research vessel named Seabed Constructor, which is carrying 65 crew members and set off from South Africa in early January for the search zone.
Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon.
Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia, told 9News that the survey systems used by Texas-based Ocean Infinity from its Seabed Constructor vessel would cover 100,000sqkm in just 90 days.
“The previous search took more than two years to cover 120,000sqkm,” Pattiaratchi said.
“This is a major leap in technology and I am amazed at what they can do.”
The Seabed Constructor is carrying eight autonomous HUGIN submersibles, equipped with sonars and cameras, that will scour the waters in the hunt for the wreckage and can operate in depths up to 6,000 metres.
“This will be a major advance. Last time the search teams could not use that many underwater sensors,” Pattiaratchi said.
In 2016, Pattiaratchi modelled the possible path of debris based on ocean currents and predictions of where it is believed the plane went down. He successfully predicted the location of the MH370 debris so far found.  
Ocean Infinity is reportedly confident it can locate the wreckage using intelligence from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Boeing flight simulators, in conjunction with the vessel’s enhanced search equipment, according to the Daily Express. Inmarsat, a UK satellite company that received routine automatic communications from MH370 during its fateful flight, is also involved in the mission, the paper adds.