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Air France Flight 447 Discovered

Two years ago, Air France Flight 447 was on its way back to Paris from Rio de Janeiro when it completely disappeared — without issuing a mayday call or leaving even a trace on radar. After three search attempts, by boat, mini-sub, and sonar (in an effort to detect the ultrasonic signal emitted by the plane’s black boxes), the jetliner was finally discovered on April 3, 2011 with the help of an autonomous submarine called the Remus 6000. The autonomous undersea vehicle then located the plane’s two black box data recorders, recovering the first on April 30 and the cockpit voice recorder on May 2.

The Remus 6000 completes searches by swimming on a specific track line using various navigation techniques. Lacking full sensor capacity and independent thinking, the vehicle cannot make decisions that other autonomous robots can make. In less than a week, however, the Remus 6000 recorded images of large debris from the missing jetliner using its multibeam bathymetric sonar. With this new information, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution team located the plane 13,000 feet below the sea, in the middle of a huge underwater mountain range.

With down-looking cameras, the Remus 6000 can explore depths 3.7 miles below the ocean surface.

In the past, REMUS 6000 vehicles have also been used to survey the wreck of the Titanic.

The debris field formed by wreckage of Flight 447 as it appeared on sidescan sonar images taken by one of the REMUS 6000 vehicles.

One of the engines from the Air France Airbus A-330 that crashed in 2009 photographed from a REMUS 6000 vehicle.

Images: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

12 Responses to “Air France Flight 447 Discovered”

  1. very interesting story

  2. It simply makes me wonder just why technology hasn’t upgraded the batteries (or power source) for radio locator beacons that aircraft automatically transmit when it crashes. From just a few days, why not develop one that lasts a year or two?

  3. dude, you try making a battery that will last for years transmitting radio signals from such extreem condidions as these wrecks go through, and where would you put the batteries? in the black box (which is actualy orange)? then you make the blackbox more prone to failure beacuse of the entra stuff you shove into it. thats all. btw, very interesting artical, i heard that one potencial reason that the plain failed was beacuse of supercolled water hitting the airspeed measure device and knowing the air speed makes alot of the vital things function

  4. This is such a great list. I will have to ponder some of these–I have some of our own that we do as well as some of those on your list we already do.

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