The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is still ongoing, and Australian officials leading a team is asking for more contributions. The expensive search for the missing flight now enters its third month.
The Bluefin-21 submersible leased by the U.S. Navy that has been scanning the Indian Ocean floor will only continue for another month, search officials said Monday.
The autonomous sub has been scanning the seabed with sonar to find the plane missing since March 8 with 239 people on board. The Pentagon initially set aside $4 million for its share of the search.
But as the search narrows from 1.8 million square miles of ocean surface to several thousand square miles of ocean floor, officials are putting out requests for more search equipment and asking for more contributions to the estimated $60 million cost.
Angus Houston, the Australian who heads the Joint Agency Coordination Center that is leading the search, said the number of people participating in the search will be “much less” than the “hundreds and hundreds of people” involved in the ocean-surface search.
“You can count on one hand the number of systems that are available to do this work, when you talk about towed sonar devices,” Houston said.
Warren Truss, Australia’s deputy prime minister, said the three major countries involved in the search at this point expect to share that cost with other governments and private companies.
Australia is leading the search for 41 of 53 days because it is closest to the presumed crash site. Malaysia is leading the investigation as host for the airline. And China is closely involved because most of the passengers were from there.
But Truss said Boeing and Rolls-Royce, as the plane and engine manufacturers, will also be asked to contribute to the search, along with France as home to many of the avionics manufacturers.
“I think we will be looking for increasing involvement from the manufacturers and their host countries,” said Warren Truss, Australia’s deputy prime minister.
For the surface search, each of 26 countries in the search paid for their own equipment as part of the search that involved 24 planes and 14 ships, officials said.