Beyond that area, Ocean Infinity will receive $70 million, Liow said.
A year after the official search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean was called off by Malaysia, Australia and China, the government of Malaysia on Wednesday said that it would pay USA firm Ocean Infinity up to $70 million for finding the wreckage or black boxes of the MH370 flight within 3 months. It has been reported that while the reward fee potential of the venture is speculative, the Malaysian government has agreed to underwrite the operating costs of the search effort and that two of its naval officers will be on board the search vessel as observers, participants and consultants.
A lengthy multinational search carried out by Malaysia, China, and Australia covered nearly 50,000 square miles of the southern Indian Ocean but was called off at the start of 2017 after failing to locate the plane, a Boeing 777.
Its priority is to locate the wreckage or the flight and cockpit recorders, and present credible evidence to confirm their location within 90 days, Liow added.
The search will begin on January 17, said Ocean Infinity chief executive Plunkett, who attended the signing event.
They also extended their appreciation to Ocean Infinity's search on a "no cure, no fee" basis, which means that payment will only be made when the debris of the missing jetliner is found and confirmed by a third party.
Ocean Infinity's vessel carries eight autonomous underwater vehicles that will scour the seabed with scanning equipment for information to be sent back for analysis.
The ship could complete the search within three or four weeks, and cover up to 60,000 square km in 90 days, or four times faster than earlier efforts, Plunkett told Reuters. It was for that particular reason that it has finally made a decision to award a "no-find, no-fee" contract to one of the biggest private US-based tech companies and it exudes confidence that this time around it won't miss.
"While there can be no guarantees of locating the aircraft, we believe our system of multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously is well suited to the task at hand", he added. The amount the company will receive depends upon where the aircraft or the parts of the aircraft are found.
The Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people - mostly from China - on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, triggering one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.