Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014 with 239 people, mostly Chinese, on board.
Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370’s transponder before diverting it over the Indian Ocean. Debris has been collected from Indian Ocean islands and Africa’s east coast and at least three pieces have been confirmed as coming from the missing plane.
Malaysia agreed earlier this month to pay US firm Ocean Infinity up to $70 million if it finds the plane within 90 days. The search vessel, the Seabed Constructor, set off from Durban, South Africa, on January 3.
The vessel is equipped with eight autonomous submersibles that can search a wide area of sea floor much faster than the tethered scanners used in previous searches, Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia, said by phone from Colombo.
“If they don’t find anything in the 90 days...I think that would be the end for decades — this is like the final effort, if you like,” he said.
Reuters data, which is supplied from an automated tracking system, shows the vessel reached the search zone on Sunday and on Tuesday was tracking toward a spot that Australia’s scientific agency believes with “unprecedented precision and certainty” is the most likely location of the aircraft.
Texas-based Ocean Infinity could not be reached outside business hours at offices in Houston and London.
Australia, Malaysia and China called off their two-year search for the plane a year ago after finding nothing in a 120,000-square-kilometer underwater search zone.