KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 – The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has opened tender to acquire the services of a specialist company to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight. ATSB in a statement Wednesday said the intensified underwater search for the Boeing 777 aircraft will begin in August and is expected to take up to 12 months.

The successful tenderer is expected to provide the expertise, equipment and vessels necessary to undertake the search mission in the southern Indian Ocean with water depth between 1,000 and 6,000 metres, it said. “While the precise search zone is currently being established by an international search strategy working group, it is expected that the successful tenderer will search an area up to 60,000 square kilometres based on the ‘seventh handshake’ arc where the aircraft last communicated with the Inmarsat satellite,” it said.

Besides that, the company will be responsible to positively identify and map the debris field of MH370 using specialist equipment such as towed and autonomous underwater vehicles with mounted sonar or optical imaging systems. ATSB is leading the search mission at the request of the Malaysian government in accordance with Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The MH370 flight with 227 passengers and 12 crew, went missing in the morning of March 8 about an hour after departing from the KL International Airport at 12.41am.

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