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Private Contractors' Search For MH370 Could Cost $60M

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is entering a new phase. Australia plans to pay $60 million for deep-sea scanning of the ocean floor.
Posted at 10:42 AM, Apr 28, 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Monday the hunt for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is changing course. Now, more than 50 days after the search began, private contractors will be brought in to scour the ocean floor. 

ABBOTT: "We are moving from the current phase to a phase which is focused on searching the ocean floor."

And those private contractors will not be cheap. CNN says it will cost $60 million alone to focus on the ocean floor. Aerial searches will be suspended because CNN points out any floating debris would have become waterlogged and sunk by now. 

This new phase is not expected to be a speedy solution. Abbott says it could take six to eight months to examine thousands of square miles of ocean floor. 

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ​​"The U.S. Navy telling CNN they will probably move north to where the first ping location was heard first. ... If they can't find anything in these more promising areas, much smaller areas, they will expand it enormously, some 21,600 square miles."

To put that into perspective, that search area is slightly smaller than the entire state of West Virginia. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Wapcaplet

In recent weeks, search crews have been using the U.S. Navy's submersible vessel, the Bluefin-21, but its 16 deep-sea missions have turned up fruitless. 

The New York Times adds the new private contractor vessels will be more efficient in scanning larger areas and picking up more vivid images of the ocean floor. However, the Bluefin-21 will continue to carry out missions.

The Telegraph reports Australia will pick up the tab. This is the latest effort since Flight 370's disappearance March 8 with 239 passengers on board.