Drones and exaustive oceanic research for MH370

MH370I have been busy with other stuff in the past few weeks. Here I am, anyway.

As many people, I am very curious about the fate of MH370 flight. It’s not just about the (almost certain) death of 239 people, it’s also about aviation safety. Understanding what could have gone wrong will lead for sure to changes to the air safety regulations. Pilot suicide, hijacking, mechanical failure, fire, passengers mutiny, meteorite collision, hacking, remote hacking, …? Each of this scenario could lead to a different review of the existing regulations. Of course, a review will be probably undertaken anyway in order to make the localization of a plane wreckage easier.

The thing is: how the MH370 wreckage will be found? There are two steps:

  1. Find some floating debris of the airplane
  2. Find the wreckage on the bottom of the ocean

Step 1 could be even impossible if there are no floating debris of the aircraft. And the area to look is massive, and it’s increasing every due to the oceanic currents. There are hundreds of satellite and aerial sights (maybe not as promising as the one shown above), however they are likely to be due to all the garbage floating on the ocean. Step 2 can’t really begin without having a precise information about the impact location.

This first phase of high commitment research will be probably closed without any important finding, as the costs will be unsustainable and the probability of finding something too low. What happens next? There will be a research done with more cost-effective technologies, even if probably slower. Let’s consider that a realistic budget for finding the MH370 would be even more than 100M$. The technologies involved will be drone-based.

  • Some medium sized ship can be converted to drone carrier and can be put in the middle of the research area, and several drones will fly every day. Some automatic feature recognition would be necessary. Not very difficult though.
  • Friendly-Floatees-like devices can be used to track the currents in that area, in order to help tracking the impact site to the debris location.
  • UUV (Unmanned underwater vehicles) could patrol the area, probably for years, looking for irregularities and metallic materials on the bottom of the oceans. An operation like this would certainly find probably many ships and some other aircrafts. This technology could actually trigger a sort of oceanic Google Street, where many interesting objects laying down below the oceans can be discovered and tagged (and maybe even recovered).

So, I think that we could wait decades before finding the MH370. But when we will do, probably we would have found a lot of other interesting items across the oceans.

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