The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has awarded Dutch engineering company Fugro an additional contract for a comprehensive deep-water search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean.
In June, the ATSB announced a new high priority search area of up to 60,000 square kilometers located in the Southern Indian Ocean along the so-called “seventh arc”, a thin but long line that marks where the missing aircraft last communicated with satellite.
Since then, the Fugro Equator, along with the Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen, have been involved in the bathymetric survey, or mapping of the sea floor, within this search area, while a public tender was issued seeking a primary contractor for the expertise, equipment and vessels to carry out a more comprehensive search.
Fugro says it will mobilize its vessels Fugro Equator and Fugro Discovery, both fitted with deep tow survey systems, for the work. Fugro and ATSB expect the Fugro Discovery to begin the deep tow search in late September, with Fugro Equator joining shortly thereafter.
The search is expected to take up to twelve months, but will obviously end if the missing aircraft is found beforehand, Fugro says.
Furgo added that the Australian Government has allocated has AUS $60 million, or approximately US $56 million, to the ATSB to carry out the search for MH370.