Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) are generally the primary tool for locating distressed aircrews following an aircraft accident. In 2009, the International COSPAS-SARSAT organization ordered the cessation of 121.5 MHz ELT satellite monitoring to alleviate systemic false alarms and encourage pilots to upgrade ELTs to modern 406 MHz models. While most nations acquiesced to the mandate, the United States encountered severe resistance from pilot groups. As a result, 121.5 MHz ELTs are still in use in the U.S. but remain unmonitored by satellite systems. This study sought to assess the impact of alternative search methods such as radar and cellular phone forensic analysis on search and rescue duration. The study collected records from 365 search missions conducted between 2006 and 2011 to determine if there was a significant difference in mission search durations if forensic methods were utilized. Data was transformed and assessed using ANOVA and Brown-Forsythe F-testing. The study revealed that missions which employed either cellular phone or radar forensic search methods required significantly longer than missions which did not employ those techniques. Missions utilizing cellular phone forensics required a mean of 23.4 search hours, whereas missions which did not use cellular forensic methods only required 13.2 hours. Similarly, missions using radar forensics required a mean of 21.3 hours versus 10.0 hours for missions which did not use such forensics. This research provides valuable data to search and rescue agencies in determining the efficacy of using both cellular phone and radar forensic methods in search operations.
Wallace, Ryan J.
"Effect of Cellular Phone and Radar Forensics on Search and Rescue Duration for General Aviation Aircraft Accidents in the Contiguous United States,"
Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering:
2, Article 7.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/2159-6670.1093