Malaysia Airlines flight 370

Malaysia says search for MH370 plane to end in June as relatives of the missing remember

US firm Ocean Infinity started to look for the aircraft on January 22 and has 90 search days to find it, or it will not get paid

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 March, 2018, 9:45pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 March, 2018, 9:45pm

A Malaysian official said on Saturday that the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 by a US company is likely to end in June, as families of passengers marked the fourth anniversary of the plane’s disappearance with renewed hope that the world’s biggest aviation mystery will be solved.

Malaysia signed a “no cure, no fee” deal with Houston, Texas-based Ocean Infinity in January to resume the hunt for the plane, a year after the official search in the southern Indian Ocean by Malaysia, Australia and China was called off.

Ocean Infinity started the search on January 22 and has 90 search days to look for the plane. Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said the 90-day term will spread over a few months because the search vessel has to refuel in Australia and bad weather could be a factor.

Azharuddin said the search is going smoothly and is expected to end by mid-June.

“The whole world, including the next of kin, have [new] hope to find the plane for closure,” he told reporters at a remembrance event at a shopping centre near Kuala Lumpur. “For the aviation world, we want to know what exactly happened to the plane.”

Officials have said there was an 85 per cent chance of finding the debris in a new 25,000 sq km search area – roughly the size of Vermont – identified by experts.

Malaysia signs US$50 million deal with exploration firm to find missing MH370, but will only pay up if aircraft is found

If the mission is successful within three months, payment will be made based on the size of the area searched. Malaysia says it will pay Ocean Infinity US$20 million for 5,000 sq km (1,930 square miles) of a successful search, US$30 million for 15,000 sq km (5,790 square miles), US$50 million for 25,000 sq km (9,653 square miles) and US$70 million if the plane or flight recorders are found beyond the identified area.

The plane vanished March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The gaping holes in the Malaysia Airlines flight 370 search report

The official search was extremely difficult because no transmissions were received from the aircraft after its first 38 minutes of flight. Systems designed to automatically send the flight’s position failed to work after this point, according to a final report issued in January 2017 by the Australian Transport Safety Board.

Watch: MH370 ‘descended rapidly’: report

Family members lit candles on a stage Saturday and observed a moment of silence during the three-hour event. Most are split over whether the search will be fruitful.

“It doesn’t renew [any hope] because I also have to be realistic. It has been four years,” said Intan Maizura Othman, whose husband was a flight attendant on the plane. She was pregnant when the plane disappeared and attended the event with her now 4-year-old son.

Jiang Hui of China, whose mother was on board the plane, said that he was grateful for Ocean Infinity’s courage to mount the search, but that he hopes it will not be the end if the mission fails. He proposed for a public fund to be set up to continue the search.

“Without a search, there will be no truth,” Jiang said.