Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

MH370: New phase to include private contractors, may cost $60 million

    Just Watched

    Australia to focus search on ocean floor

Australia to focus search on ocean floor 01:14

Story highlights

  • Abbott: 'The aircraft plainly cannot disappear. It must be somewhere'
  • Relatives will take their concerns to Boeing's shareholders meeting
  • Aerial searches will be suspended
  • Bluefin-21 will continue to operate

The next phase in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will be a more intense underwater search that will use private contractors, take months and cost about $56 million, officials said Monday.

"I regret to say that thus far none of our efforts in the air, on the surface or under sea, have found any wreckage," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday.

Because it's "highly unlikely" that any debris will be found on the ocean surface, authorities will be suspending aerial searches. By now, most of the debris will have become waterlogged and will have sunk, he said.

Crews will now conduct a thorough search of the ocean floor over a much larger area -- 60,000 square kilometers. The process could take at least six to eight months.

    Just Watched

    Search area for MH370 to shift north

Search area for MH370 to shift north 05:20

    Just Watched

    What if the Bluefin doesn't find Flight 370?

What if the Bluefin doesn't find Flight 370? 02:40

    Just Watched

    Malaysian PM won't say plane is lost

Malaysian PM won't say plane is lost 02:36

    Just Watched

    Object in MH370 search not likely of use

Object in MH370 search not likely of use 01:50

"The aircraft plainly cannot disappear. It must be somewhere," Abbott said. "We do not want this crippling cloud of uncertainty to hang over this family and the wider traveling public."

Demanding answers

    It wasn't immediately known how family members of the missing passengers greeted Monday's news.

    Furious with Malaysian officials, whom they fault for doing a poor job communicating, many family members plan to take their concerns to Boeing when the aircraft giant holds its annual shareholders meeting in Chicago on Monday morning.

    MH370 is a Boeing 777, disappeared March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. It was carrying 239 people.

    "The briefings are a joke," said Sarah Bajc, whose partner, Philip Wood, was a passenger on the plane. "The patience level of the families group is just gone."

    "Boeing is a publicly traded company in the United States, and that puts them in a position of a little bit more fiduciary responsibility," she said.

    Malaysian authorities need to do a better job of communicating with the families and answering their questions during briefings, she said, rather than treating passengers' loved ones "as if we are the enemy, as opposed to an interested party in helping to solve this mystery."

      Just Watched

      'Object of interest' found in Australia

    'Object of interest' found in Australia 02:14

    Shift in focus

      Just Watched

      Malaysian PM: Familes need hard evidence

    Malaysian PM: Familes need hard evidence 03:36

      Just Watched

      'We'd like the chance to sit down and talk'

    'We'd like the chance to sit down and talk' 06:39

      Just Watched

      Obama talks U.S./Malaysia ties and MH370

    Obama talks U.S./Malaysia ties and MH370 01:31

    For 52 days, an international coalition has been searching for the plane, focusing its effort in the southern Indian Ocean, where the plane is believed to have gone down.

    Bluefin-21, a submersible on contract to the U.S. Navy, had been scouring the ocean floor for traces of the plane.

    But despite multiple missions searching 400 square kilometers (154.44 square miles), it has found no evidence of the missing aircraft's data recorders.

    Bluefin will continue to operate. But it will now be joined by sonar devices towed by ships.

    The new equipment will be able to perform broad sweeps and provide feedback from the ocean floor. The Bluefin had to be brought up after each mission to have its data downloaded.

    The Australian government will continue to work with Malaysian and Chinese authorities. But "one or more" private companies will be contracted to assist, Abbot said.

    Further technology, including a number of other underwater vehicles both private and public, could also be pressed into service.

    Some of them can go miles deeper than the Bluefin and remain underwater for weeks at a time.

    'We're in the right area'

    The Bluefin was put to work after officials detected signals they believed were from the jet's flight recorders.

    Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the head of Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre, said Monday the pings detected remained "the best lead we've got."

    "I think we're in the right area," Houston said.

    Asked whether it was possible that thick silt on the seabed may have buried the aircraft, Houston said some wreckage would still be on top of the silt.

    "This is an extraordinary mystery," Prime Minister Abbott said. "We will do everything we reasonably can to resolve it."

        Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

      • nr intv moni basu husbands quiet suffering flight 370_00020822.jpg

        His wife never came home from her flight on MH370, and now K.S. Narendran is left to imagine the worst of possible truths without knowing.
      • This handout photo taken on April 7, 2014 and released on April 9, 2014 by Australian Defence shows Maritime Warfare Officer, Sub Lieutenant Ryan Penrose watching HMAS Success as HMAS Perth approaches for a replenishment at sea while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. Two fresh signals have been picked up Australian ship Ocean Shield in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, raising hopes that wreckage will be found within days even as black box batteries start to expire.

        Was the sound of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 striking the water captured by ocean devices used to listen for signs of nuclear blasts?
      •  A crew member of a Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) P-3K2-Orion aircraft helps to look for objects during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in flight over the Indian Ocean on April 13, 2014 off the coast of Perth, Australia. S

        What was believed to be the best hope of finding the missing plane is now being called a false hope. Rene Marsh explains.
      • Caption:A Chinese relative of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 uses a lighter as she prays at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing on April 8, 2014. The hunt for physical evidence that the Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in the Indian Ocean more than three weeks ago has turned up nothing, despite a massive operation involving seven countries and repeated sightings of suspected debris. AFP PHOTO/WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

        Involved parties, including the manufacturer Boeing, are bracing for a long public relations siege.
      • The painstaking search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 got a vote of confidence Friday that the effort is headed in the right direction, but officials noted that much work remains.
Credit: 	CNN

        Official: The four acoustic pings at the center of the search for Flight 370 are no longer believed to have come from the plane's black boxes.
      • INDIAN OCEAN (April 14, 2014) -- Operators aboard ADF Ocean Shield move U.S. Navy's Bluefin-21 into position for deployment, April 14. Using side scan sonar, the Bluefin will descend to a depth of between 4,000 and 4,500 meters, approximately 35 meters above the ocean floor. It will spend up to 16 hours at this depth collecting data, before potentially moving to other likely search areas. Joint Task Force 658 is currently supporting Operation Southern Indian Ocean, searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/RELEASED)

        The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane will effectively be put on hold this week, and may not resume until August at the earliest.
      • Movie-makers say they have recruited leading Hollywood technicians to bring their experience to mid-air flight sequences.

        Movie-makers in Cannes have announced they're making a thriller based on the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370.
      • The search for the missing Boeing 777 has gone on for eight weeks now. CNN's David Molko looks back at this difficult, emotional assignment.