MH370: Searchers given 300 days to find lost 777

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Search teams will be given 300 days to conduct a hunt for Malaysia Airlines’ missing Boeing 777 under the terms of an Australian government tender to find flight MH370.

The tender document states that the effort must cover at least 5,000km2 every 25 days and a total area of 60,000km2 over the course of the programme.

Payments will be partially withheld if this search rate is not achieved but the government will also pay an agreed minimum fee if MH370 is discovered early.

Successful bidders must begin the search within a month of signing a contract for the work. Bids are due by 30 June.

“Through the analysis of available satellite, radar and other data, it has been determined that MH370 is likely to be in the southern Indian Ocean within Australia’s search and rescue zone,” the document says.

It states that analysis indicates that MH370 will be found “in close proximity” to the so-called “seventh arc”, the area of the last satellite communications from the 777. This arc reaches from 20°S to 39°S.

“At the time MH370 reached this arc, the aircraft is considered to have exhausted its fuel and to have been descending,” the document adds, explaining that, as a result, the aircraft is “unlikely” to be more than 20nm west or 30nm east of the arc.

Further refinement of the search area will reduce the region to a prioritised 60,000km2 running some 350nm along the arc.

Bidders must be able to supply equipment capable of operating at depths of 6,000m and mapping the wreckage field, enabling assessment to be carried out regarding the recovery of the flight recorders, the remains of the occupants, and any significant aircraft components or relevant cargo.