A team of ocean explorers is fast making their way towards the search zone in the Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, having left Durban port last week.
The vessel, Seabed Constructor, is now close to the search area, said Ocean Infinity chief executive officer Oliver Plunkett.
Ocean Infinity is the Houston-based company that was officially awarded the contract on Wednesday by the Malaysian government to search for the plane that went missing in March 2014, with 227 passengers, and 12 Malaysian crew members on board.
The Malay Mail Online news site reported that Ocean Infinity will be paid US$70million if the debris field of the missing plane, or the aircraft’s black box, is located within 90 days.
The high-tech vessel left the Durban port last week on its journey towards the search zone in the southern Indian Ocean.
The company made their way to the search zone ahead of the actual contract being signed, as they wanted to save time as bad weather had been forecast.
Plunkett said once they reach the search zone, work will commence immediately, and the search is expected to last for 90 days.
“We are pleased that our offer to continue the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has been accepted by the Government of Malaysia, who I would like to thank for giving us the opportunity. Whilst there can be no guarantees of locating the aircraft, we believe our system of multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously is well suited to the task at hand,” said Plunkett.
The special equipment they will be using to search for the plane were eight autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).
“The AUVs are free flying, which means they will not be tethered to the offshore vessel during operations. The ability to operate untethered independent missions allows the AUVs to go deeper and collect higher quality data, making this technology ideal for the search,” said Plunkett.
The vessel being used in the search, the Seabed Constructor, had docked in Durban over the New year for cleaning, before departing for its mission.