Malaysia's government agreed Saturday to have a Houston company resume the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 but said Ocean Infinity will only be paid if the wreckage is found.
Ocean Infinity has already dispatched a search vessel to look for the Boeing 777 in the Indian Ocean, according to The Associated Press. The company will attempt to accomplish what the governments of Australia, Malaysia and China were unable to do during a nearly three-year search that ended in January 2017 and cost $160 million.
The plane went missing March 8, 2014, with 239 people aboard during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. While pieces of debris have washed up around the Indian Ocean, the main wreckage of the plane that is crucial to determining why it crashed has never been found.
"The basis of the offer from Ocean Infinity is based on 'no cure, no fee,'" Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told AP on Saturday, meaning that payment will be made only if the company finds the wreckage.
But he said he didn't "want to give too much hope" to the next of kin.
The private search will focus on an area a 9,600-square-mile area about the size of Vermont, which is adjacent to the area already searched and which experts called promising after the official search ended. The government search spanned 46,000 square miles, an area about the size of Pennsylvania.
The government search mapped the ocean floor and then combed the area with sonar that detected items on the ocean floor as small as anchors, cargo containers and cables — without finding any trace of the plane.
The location for the search was determined by experts led by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. The group studied satellite signals presumed to come from the plane and ocean currents tracing back from where debris washed up.
The plane's electronics, which separately transmitted its location or maintenance information, stopped signaling early in the flight. But the plane is presumed to have stayed in the air more than seven hours, until it ran out of fuel, based on electronic signals that a satellite detected.
More than 500 days after the crash, a piece of the wing called a flaperon was the first confirmed debris to wash up, on the island of La Reunion, in July 2015.
At least 18 pieces of the plane, including parts of an engine cowling and a bulkhead panel, eventually were recovered from beaches in Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania.