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Using Aircraft Trajectory and Ocean Surface Vectors to Assist in Locating Lost Vessels

Lauren DeVore*, Linfield College (Undergraduate Student)
Alexander Ogle*, Linfield College (Undergraduate Student)
James Knox*, Linfield College (Undergraduate Student)
Talk Abstract: 
We present a model developed for the COMAP Mathematical Competition in Modeling to assist in searching for aircraft assumed to have crashed in open water. We began by determining all potential and most probable crash locations based on the plane’s trajectory and when and where its ACARS ‘handshake’ signal was last completed. Using a simulation programmed in MATLAB, we were able to generate a generic ocean current map in the form of a vector field which simulates the forces acting on the downed plane. A matrix of possible plane crash sites was then generated based on the plane’s prior trajectory and the time between ACARS signals. The simulation calculated the plane’s location after some time interval between runs, finally showing a collection of locations of the downed plane, given a spread of initial crash locations. We then developed protocols for recommended search planes to optimize the speed for rescuers to find the plane. Overall, our model has the potential to incorporate real world data and generate more accurate drift simulations, making it a useful tool for future search scenarios.
Talk Subject: 
Talk Type: 
Oral Presentation
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 17:45