The Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is craned over the side of the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield in the southern Indian Ocean during the continuing search for the missing Flight MH370, April 17, 2014. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — A private contractor will be engaged to help the search for the missing flight MH370, as recovery teams struggle to find evidence of the plane’s whereabouts after 80 days since it disappeared on March 8.
The Wall Street Journal reported that a public tender will be issued to bring on one contractor to coordinate an expanded undersea search covering 60,000 square kilometres in a remote part of the Indian Ocean.
Citing a person familiar with the search, the daily said the successful bidder in the two-month long tender process will be put in charge of building a team of ships, crew and technology to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines-owned plane.
The report added that the tender documents will outline basic information that includes the area to be explored, available funds and the time frame for the search, though applicants can come up with their own strategies to find the plane.
There, however, was not mention of how much money will be made available for the tender.
The ongoing search for flight MH370 is considered the longest and most expensive in the world’s aviation history, with Reuters estimating costs to have hit RM141 million for the first month alone.
This was the same amount spent on several searches over a two-year period for Air France’s flight AF447, which crashed into the mid-Atlantic in 2009, the news wire added.
Australia, which is leading the search for MH370, has committed a ceiling amount AU$89.9 million (RM272.3 million) for the next two years.
The Beijing-bound jetliner carrying 239 people went missing not long after taking off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, sparking the largest international search mission the world has seen in the history of aviation disasters.
Satellite and radar data have indicated that the jetliner went down in the wild waters of the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles away from the plane’s original flight path to Beijing.
Despite a massive international search in the Indian Ocean, no trace of the missing Boeing 777 has been found.