Malaysia has entered into a “no find, no fee” deal with American company Ocean Infinity to resume the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared nearly four years ago during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The search will focus on an area in the southern Indian Ocean that has been identified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) as the most likely location to find MH370. It covers an area of approximately 25,000 square kilometers (9,650 square miles).
“While I am hopeful of a successful search, I’m conscious of not raising hopes for the loved ones of those on board,” Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said. “No new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft, however data collected during the previous search will be provided.”
The governments of Malaysia, Australia, and China agreed to end the search in January after a search covering about 120,000 square kilometers (46,300 square miles) of ocean floor. The agreement with Ocean Infinity means that the company will pay for the search if it can’t find the aircraft.
A report released by the ATSB in December 2016 concluded that the wreckage was unlikely in the area that had been searched. Instead, experts used debris drift modeling and updated flight path models to conclude with a “high probability” that the aircraft crashed within 25 nautical miles (46 kilometers) of the so-called 7th arc.
The 7th arc refers to the region from where MH370 sent its last communication: a logon request to a satellite. Although the precise location is unknown, such a signal would be consistent with the plane’s satellite communication equipment powering up after a power interruption, which was likely caused by the aircraft running out of fuel.
As a result, experts have concluded that MH370 ran out of fuel along the seventh arc, which stretches from 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) northeast of Exmouth in Western Australia to a point about 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) southwest of Perth.
Flight MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared from civilian radar on March 8, 2014. Investigators believe that the aircraft – which was carrying 239 people – continued to fly for nearly 7 more hours before crashing into the southern Indian Ocean.
The disappearance sparked the largest and most expensive search in aviation history, but the main wreckage was never found. The only wreckage found to date are a number of pieces that have washed up in a number of countries.
The first such piece washed up on France’s Reunion Island in July 2015, confirming for the first time that the aircraft had crashed into the Indian Ocean. Additional debris was later found on the coasts of Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Rodrigues Island in Mauritius.
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