air safety

Jul 6, 2014

Malaysia announces MH370 search contract awards

Updated An Australian division of  iXBlue and Malaysia's government owned Petronas oil and gas enterprise will perform major parts of the contracts for the new sea floor s

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

From the sonar analysis pages of the iXBlue web site

Updated An Australian division of  iXBlue and Malaysia’s government owned Petronas oil and gas enterprise will perform major parts of the contracts for the new sea floor search for missing flight MH370 off the Western Australian Indian Ocean cost from mid August.

Details were tweeted by Malaysia’s former acting transport and minister of defence Hishammuddin Hussein today Sunday afternoon KL time.

The statement says:

On the asset deployment front, the Asset Deployment Committee has convened to finalise the details of the contracted assets that will be deployed as Malaysian Government Furnished Equipment for the bathymetric survey and the pursuant sub surface search.

The Burga Mas 6 (BM6) has been actively present in the search area since the surface search was carried out.  BM6 which was deployed on 20 April will remain in the search area in the coming phase to assist in the search for MH370. Currently BM6 is assisting with logistical support and data transfer for vessels within the search area.

Another Royal Malaysian Navy vessel the KDMutiara which has the capability of the multi beam echo sounder will also join the search efforts to assist in the bathymetric survey process. The ship will set sail on 4 August.

PETRONAS together with DEFTECH and Phoenix International will deploy a Prosas Side Scan Sonar (Towed synthetic aperature sonar) which will be mounted on a mother vessel.

Boustead Heavy Industries, together with iXBlue Australia will be deploying a deep towed side scan sonar with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) mounted on the mother vessel called John Lethbridge.

Instructions for immediate mobilization have been given and the assets are expected to reach the search area min mid August. Operational requirements for these assets will be coordinated with the Australian authorities.

 Malaysia remains committed in the search for MH370. It must be stressed that Malaysia together with Australia and China are doing our utmost in the search and our top priority remains to look for the missing MH370 and giving closure to the families of those on board.

The reference to the Remote Access Vehicle to be deployed on the Panama registered John Lethbridge will raise hopes that it can pursue any leads that might arise in the new search area roughly 1800 kms west to south west of Perth in the course of the program for a systematic rather than impulsive search of the ocean floor.

Oceanographic vessel John Lethbridge, Commons photo

Phoenix International is the US marine services contractor that supported the US Navy tower pinger vehicle and the autonomous Bluefin-21 submersible that were operated from the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield in the intial sea floor search for MH370.

Boustead Heavy Industries is a Singapore based, and Singapore and Kuala Lumpur traded conglomerate and reported as a major shareholder in BHP Billiton Petroleum.

iXBlue is managed from France, but has developed a global network of companies involved in maritime and oceanographic services ranging from fisheries management to sonar data analysis and extensive work supporting resources exploration.

The contracts awarded for the next phase of the sea floor search for MH370 were allocated $89.9 million in the Australian government budget for this financial year to 30 June 2015. That figure doesn’t reflect contributions that may be made by other states involved in the search.

MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on 8 March with 239 people on board. At the change over point from Malaysia to Vietnamese air traffic control while over the Gulf of Thailand the identifying transponder on the jet went off line, rendering it dark to ATC systems although it was seen on primary radars operated by military installations.

The aircraft is known to have flown for more than seven and a half hours and inexplicably, ultimately turned southerly on what is believed to have been a constant heading into the SW sector of the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Western Australia.

The astonishing and inept confirmation by Air New Zealand today that the locked door of a 777 cockpit can be readily by-passed has advanced the case for deliberate tampering, or perhaps urgent repairs, being attempted inside its electronics bay. That public revelation of a situation well known within airlines operating 777s  (but never until today publicised) also means that in terms of hypotheticals, it cannot be held that the cockpit door was locked so as to keep either or both pilots from variously entering or leaving it against their will.

Update In response to a query the Joint Agency Coordination Centre in Canberra has repearted the guidance of last month, that there will be a period of weeks fof tender evaluations prior to a selection being made.

Conclusion Australia and Malaysia are on different planets.

A reverse chronology of reports on MH370 is accessed via the red button on the right of the Plane Talking landing page.

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Leave a comment

5 thoughts on “Malaysia announces MH370 search contract awards

  1. Glen

    So Australia will effectively be paying the Malaysian government (owners of Petronas) to search for a crashed Malaysian aircraft in distant international waters, long after any conceivable Australian search and rescue responsibility has ended. You budget emergency in action.

  2. Geoff

    I know it’s off subject but did the acting transport minister really “tweet” that statement?

    From the Twitter website:
    Definition: A Tweet is a 140-character message posted via Twitter.

    I admit I am unfamiliar with the technology

  3. Ben Sandilands


    He tweeted it as an image, so no character count issue. However the resolution was so poor I had to transcribe it.

    I notice he retweeted it this morning in a somewhat clearer image form.

  4. johnb78

    Glen: fairly obviously, there has been some kind of deal under which Malaysia will stump up cash in exchange for some Malaysian companies getting in on the gig.

  5. BugSmasher

    It has already been pointed out that with some forethought, there are several ‘unconventional’ means for preventing entry to the flight deck. I don’t think the rogue pilot theory can be completely discounted just yet (or the hijacker alone on the flight deck theory).

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