Air France Flight 447 Recovery Effort Using ASA Software

SAROPS includes a "reverse drift" capability, which predicts a search area based on the location where floating wreckage is found.
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Advanced search-and-rescue software from Applied Science Associates (ASA) is helping authorities recover bodies and debris from Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic June 1 with 228 people aboard.

The Rhode Island-based company said U.S. Coast Guard (SAR) experts based at the Guard’s Rescue Coordination Center in Portsmouth, Va., helped French authorities by applying their new, advanced Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS) from ASA that generates optimized search area predictions for objects missing at sea.

SAROPS includes a "reverse drift" capability, which predicts a search area based on the location where floating wreckage is found. This enables search planners to develop optimal search patterns, maximizing the probability of successfully locating search objects. By tracking information on when and where debris is found, the SAROPS system works backward using the weather, wind and sea conditions over a specified period of time to estimate a probable location of the plane. Based on this position, search efforts can be focused to find the plane's flight data recorders.

The SAROPS system was developed for the U.S. Coast Guard (deployed in 2007), collaboratively by ASA, Northrop Grumman and Metron Inc.

ASA delivers the crucial “Environmental Data Server” (EDS) component of SAROPS, which quickly aggregates and feeds meteorological and hydrodynamic conditions to the SAROPS system.

“The software is designed to minimize data entry and the potential for error, resulting in more efficient recovery than ever before,” said ASA CEO Eoin Howlett. “The ability to access a variety of data from satellite, in-situ observations, radar, and models allows the search and rescue controller to quickly evaluate possible scenarios.”

The exact location of the crash has not yet been determined. The flight data and cockpit voice recorders also remain missing, and may lay on the ocean floor. The area of ocean where the debris and bodies have been found ranges between 19,685 and 26,247 feet (6,000 and 8,000 m) deep. The search area covers 77,220 square miles (200,000 square km), an area nearly as big as the state of Nebraska, but so far 29 bodies as well as pieces of the jet and luggage have been recovered.

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Applied Science Associates www.asascience.com

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