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Search For Missing Malaysian Plane Is Setting Up to Be History's Most Expensive

Last updated Fri, 09 May 2014 18:02:28 GMT
Originally posted on Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:40:24 GMT

The race is still on to find the missing Malaysian plane that disappeared on March 8, 2014. While the hope to find survivors is gone, there is still hope to find the plane just to know what happened in the last moments. However, this is setting up to be one of the most expensive searches in the history of plane searches.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777

Countries continue to say that the cost is not going to be an issue, but could it lead to financial issues in the future?

26 Countries and $44 Million Dollars So Far

26 countries are currently offering anything they can to help find the missing jet. Some have contributed planes and ships, while others go to the extremes of satellites and submarines. Individual companies have even gotten in on the act, as they open satellite photos up for the general public to offer their thoughts.

People like Courtney Love have gotten involved. They’re searching the images to find oil slicks, possible bits of broken plane and any other evidence that the Malaysian jet could have crash landed somewhere.

Other software is being used to listen out for the black box. However, chances of that being found now are slim. The black box had 30 days battery life, so it likely ran out about 10 days ago.

According to Reuters, the total cost so far is around $44 million dollars. That is just from the efforts from the Vietnamese, Americans, Chinese and Australians. Military jets and ships are constantly searching the South China Sea and Indian Ocean in the hope that they will find something.

Equal to Months of Searching in Just One Month

The second most expensive search was Air France’s AF447, which crashed in 2009 in the Mid-Atlantic. It took two years to finally find the plane, so families could finally get some peace. However, just a month’s worth of searching for the Malaysia jet has equalled several months of that two-year cost.

There are some suggesting that the bill to find the Air France flight was higher than reported. However, the Malaysian bill continues to rise. The plane has not been found. If it takes two years like the Air France craft did, it will be in the hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in the end. It is a scary thought when put that way.

It’s worth pointing out that the $44 million is currently on a small number of countries taking part. The bill is much higher when European countries, like France and Britain, are taken into account. These figures have not yet been released, so it is difficult to tell just how much higher that bill is. The bill is not taking the costs for intelligence analysts around the world, either.

Possible satellite sighting of MH370

Who Is Taking Most of the Costs?

So far, Australia has been the country to take on the majority of the costs. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has regularly said the cost doesn’t matter, and feels like his country should take the costs on. According to the Prime Minister, it is an international matter and taking on the costs to keep the search going shows citizenship and a good relationship with other countries.

There were some Australians onboard the flight, along with British, American and many other nationalities. It makes sense for so many countries to get involved, as families around the world struggle to come to terms with their missing loved ones. But should Australia really take on so much?

It’s costing the Australian Defense Force A$800,000 per day, and it has contributed about half of the costs so far. There are worries that this is not sustainable. It will lead to other operations and projects being put on hold unless the plane is found soon. Considering it took two years to find the Air France plane, there is little hope that the Malaysian one will be found any time soon.

China and the USA are the next two countries to take on bigger shares of the costs. It makes sense for the Chinese, since that is where the plane was heading. However, the Americans have more access to technology, have more personnel to spare (it seems) and constantly want to get involved in international matters.

This is shaping up to be the most expensive searches for a missing aircraft in history. The Reuters report currently shows $44 million has been spent, but that is likely much higher. According to experts, it is expected to cost double of Air France’s search should it take the full two years to find the black box. Considering the depth of the Indian Ocean, it could take much longer to find it. Just how much extra can some of the countries afford to put into it?

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Ian Stephens

About Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens is a flight simulation enthusiast also with a keen interest in aviation and technology.  Ian spends a lot of his time experimenting with various simulator packages but has a love for Microsoft Flight Simulator X because of the huge selection of add-ons available.  However, Ian also has copies of Prepar3D and X-Plane installed. 

Ian has been writing for Fly Away Simulation for over 9 years.  Should you wish, you can contact Ian via email at


Leave a Response
Peter BrayTue, 22 Apr 2014 22:03:16 GMT

Given the cost of the MH370 search, airlines & manufacturers should undertake retrofit /installation of EPIRBS in the wing and tail sections of international passenger aircraft. An urgent upgrade to ACAS message set is needed too - auto-report commanded course & altitude changes, cockpit door unlock & lock events, cockpit seat used to command, periodic navigation system position reports

Ed DesRochesTue, 22 Apr 2014 23:57:31 GMT

This is BP's chance to recover face.

MikeMon, 28 Apr 2014 16:44:00 GMT

I feel sorry for the family that lost their loved ones. I do however find it disturbing that we are spending so much money on trying to locate the plane. Move on and let them rest in piece. Its the Indian Ocean, your never going to find anything.

Terry UrbanisSun, 11 May 2014 17:47:40 GMT

If anyone took the time to watch the air plane disaster offerings from say, YouTube, you would find out that the Boeing 777 has a defective auto pilot and this is most likely the reason the MH370 search is a waste of time and money cause it could have crashed anywhere when it ran out of fuel.

JrArvdeWed, 30 Jul 2014 19:12:47 GMT

It's on Diego Garcia, look it up, im not even joking. The US know where it is.

1. The Captain's last simulator flights at his home were deleted by himself and later recovered by the FBI, last simulations to land where at the Diego Garcia Base.

2. The plane had enough fuel to reach the base, and the runway is long enough to land a B777.

3. US recently built a new hangar on the base, large enough to perfectly fit a B777, photos from Google Earth show the construction about 6 months ago, but the photos had no date, if you look at the photos now the hangar is finished but the date says "2003".

4. The US Base cancelled all flights in or out the base for 72 hours, a day before flight MH370 went missing.

5. Locals from the island where the base is located reported seeing a low flying airplane that morning, very very low, and the sound was really loud, it was the first time they hear or see such a big plane land on the base. (The B777 it is the largest twinjet aircraft in the world)

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