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How to Find a Missing Plane

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2009 8:20 AM CDT
How to Find a Missing Plane
Soldiers fuel a Brazilian Air Force plane that is part of a search and rescue mission for the Air France flight 447 in Fernando de Noronha, 350 kms off the coast of Natal, Brazil, Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

(Newser) – How will authorities go about finding Air France Flight 447? Essentially, it'll take a lot more planes, Slate explains. Most of the jet’s location gadgets, like its emergency locator transmitters, are unlikely to work underwater. The flight recorders have sonar devices attached that can transmit from 14,000 feet down, but one needs to be relatively nearby to detect them.

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That leaves rescue pilots relying mostly on the “fly-over-and-look technique,” which is exactly as high-tech as it sounds. They’ll try to narrow the search area based on data like the plane’s last known location, wind patterns, and currents. At night, they’ll use night vision goggles and strobe lights. And they may get an assist from nearby merchant vessels, thanks to a US Coast Guard program. (Read more Air France Flight 447 stories.)

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