US Coast Guard software aids search for ill-fated Air France wreckage


US Coast Guard software aids search for ill-fated Air France wreckage

Warwick Ashford

Specialised software is helping French authorities to recover wreckage and bodies from the ill-fated Air France flight 447 that crashed into the Atlantic last week.

The software generates search area predictions for planes and other vessels missing at sea based on the location of any floating wreckage.

The search and rescue optimal planning system (SAROPS) uses weather, wind and sea conditions over a period of time to identify the best search patterns.

A key component of the system is the Environmental Data Server that aggregates and feeds the weather and sea conditions into the software system. The automatic data feeds eliminate the potential for error.

Around 30 bodies, pieces of the Airbus 330 airliner and luggage have been recovered, but the search continues for the flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

"Recovery of bodies and debris is significant not only for families, but for crash investigators," said Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the US department of transport.

The SAROPS system was developed for the US Coast Guard by technology firm Applied Science Associates, aircraft systems integrator Northrup Grumman, and control systems firm Metron.

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