NEWS: Australian government to spend $50 million on MH370 search

Australia will spend $50 million in 2015/16 as part the ongoing search effort for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, budget papers show.

The funding allocation for the coming financial year would provide the necessary funding to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) to increase the search area should the aircraft not be found within the initial 60,000 square kilometre search zone.

“The Government will provide $79.6 million over two years from 2014-15 to continue the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 should the aircraft not be located in the current search area,” the budget papers said.

The Fugro Discovery, one of the ships searching for MH370 (ATSB/ABIS Chris Beerens, RAN)

“The cost of this measure will be offset by financial contributions to the search from other countries.

“The actual cost will depend on a number of factors, including the length of the search.”

The most recent update from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) published on May 6 said about 75 per cent of the existing 60,000 square kilometre search area had been covered. There has been no sign of the Boeing jet.

If the aircraft is not found within that initial search area, Malaysia, China and Australia have agreed to extend the search area by a further 60,000 square kilometres to 120,000 square kilometres.

The expanded search area could take up to a year to complete given the adverse weather conditions in the upcoming winter months, a joint communique released after the April 19 gathering of Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Thiong Lai and China’s Minister of Transport Yang Chuan Tang said.

“All three countries reiterated their commitments to use best efforts in the search for the aircraft,” the joint communique said.

The ATSB said on May 6 the search strategy working group was continuing to review evidence associated with MH370 which “may result in further refinement of the search area”.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER disappeared enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 2014. Based on an analysis of satellite tracking data, investigators believe the aircraft, which had 239 passengers and crew on board, was flown back across the Malaysian peninsula and crashed in the Indian Ocean.