Two months after suspending the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished over the Indian Ocean, the Australian government is reviewing bids from maritime experts for deep-water scanning of one of the world’s least known seabeds.
On March 8, Malaysian air traffic control lost contact with Flight 370, with 239 passengers and crew on board, and no trace of the plane was ever found.
Over the next several weeks the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will choose one or more companies to make precise maps of the ocean floor, looking for the missing Boeing 777, in the area where it is believed to have crashed after running out of fuel.
Competing for the job are some of the most advanced companies and groups, including oil exploration firms, oceanography institutions and even treasure hunters, with vast experience and sophisticated equipment.
The search area covers more than 60,000 square kilometers more than 5 kilometers deep, with deep crevices and ridges as high as Swiss Alps. The bidding companies say they will look to form a consortium in order to combine several techniques, from towed underwater sonars to remote-controlled submersible robots.
The estimated $56 million cost of the operation, planned to start in early September, will be split between Australia and Malaysia.