Australian Government Puts Dutch Company In Charge Of Search For Missing Plane MH370

An underwater search vehicle user earlier in the hunt for MH370. Image: ADF.

A Dutch company with a strong presence in Perth has been chosen by the Australian, Chinese and Malaysian governments to continue the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

MH370 disappeared on 8 March, 2014, with 239 people on board, including six Australians.

The tender contract for the continued sea-floor search has gone to Fugro Survey Pty Ltd. Around $80-$90 million has been set aside by the Australian government for the search with deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss saying the cost is around $52 million a year.

Malaysia has asked Australia to continue being in charge of the search. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is the body in charge.

Two ships, the Malaysian Navy’s Bunga Mas, and China’s Zhu Kezhen, have been searching the sea floor where the plane is suspected to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean. They have covered 32,000 square kilometres since April, around 60% of the search area. China has committed to remaining in the search area until mid-September.

Fugro will use two vessels, equipped with towed deep water vehicles to search. They will search the sea floor using side scan sonar, multi-beam echo sounders and video cameras to locate and identify any aircraft debris.

The underwater search of the 60,000 square kilometre area – around the size of Tasmania – is still expected to take up to 12 months. Fugro Discovery is en route to Perth from the United Kingdom while Fugro Equator, currently acquiring bathymetry data in the search area, is the second search vessel and mobilised when the bathymetry work is complete in mid-September.

The Malaysian Government has committed to support the joint search effort with four vessels. The KD MUTIARA, a naval survey ship is arriving in late August to join the bathymetric survey work.

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