connectVideoAmelia Earhart’s cries for help are heard by dozens of all over the world
Dozens of people from around the world heard of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan radio for help after crashing in the Pacific Ocean and becoming stranded on a remote island, according to researchers.
If Amelia Earhart took off in 1937 to fly around the world, the people were flying aircraft for only about 35 years old. When she tried to fly over the Pacific ocean, they – and the world – knew that it was risky. They did not know it, and was declared dead in January 1939. In the 80 years since then, many other aircraft have been lost around the world and never found – including the 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, over the Indian Ocean.
As flight instructors and aviation industry professionals, we know that more and more advanced technologies are getting better and better in the tracking of aircraft, even over large expanse of water, far from land. These systems allow aircraft to navigate easier, and a lot of possible real-time flight tracking a lot of the world.
Getting from place to place
From the early days of aviation until about 2000, the main way pilots navigated by playing connect-the-dots on a map. They would make use of radio direction finding equipment to follow a route from an airport to a radio-transmitting beacon at a fixed location, and then from beacon to beacon to reach the destination airport. Various technologies have made the process easier, but the concept is still the same. That system is still used, but decreasingly, so that new technologies to replace.
In the first years of the 21st century, pilots for the major airlines began to use the United States’ Global Positioning System and other similar systems that use signals from satellites to calculate the aircraft. GPS is more accurate, so that pilots land easily in poor weather conditions, without the need for expensive ground radio stations. Satellite navigation also allows pilots more directly between destinations, because they do not follow the routes of a radio beacon to the next.
There are six satellite-based navigation systems in operation: GPS, implemented by the United States; Galileo, carried out by the European Union and the European Space Agency, and the Russian GLONASS all over the planet, and the chinese BeiDou system is expected to extend over the whole world by 2020. India’s NAVIC covers the Indian Ocean and the nearby areas; Japan has started the operation of the QZSS system to improve navigation in the Pacific ocean.
The systems operate independently of each other, but some satellite navigation receivers can merge data from more than one at a time, providing pilots with highly accurate information about where they are. That can help them to get where they’re going instead of to go missing.
The tracking of aircraft
When planes do get lost, the company or country responsible for them often begins search; what efforts, such as the search for MH 370, many countries and companies.
When all is going well, most aircraft are tracked by radar, which can also help air traffic controllers prevent air collisions and give pilots directions around heavy weather. When planes fly outside the range of land-based radar, as on the long-distance travel across the oceans, though, they are tracked using a method devised more than 70 years ago: Pilots regularly radio air traffic control with reports on where they are, what altitude they fly at and what their next navigation landmark.
Over the past few years, a new method is to roll out all over the world. The name “Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast,” the system automatically sends the position reports from aircraft from the air traffic controllers and nearby aircraft, so everyone knows who is where and prevents collisions. By 2020, the FAA will require most aircraft in the U.S. to have an ADS-B system, which is already required in a number of other countries.
At the time, though, ADS-B flight tracking is not intended for remote areas of the world, because it is dependent of the ground receivers for the collection of information from aircraft. A space-based receiver system tested, which could eventually cover the entire planet.
In addition, many aircraft manufacturers to sell equipment whose monitoring and tracking software, for example, an analysis of the performance of the engine and spot problems before they become serious. Some of this equipment can transmit real-time data about the location of the device while it is in flight. Data from these systems were used in the search for MH 370, and also gave the researchers early understanding in 2015 Germanwings 9525 crash in the French Alps, before the plane’s “black box” flight data recorder was found.
GPS, ADS-B and other navigation and tracking systems have helped save, or at the very least, Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan – either by preventing them to be lost in the first place or by sending rescuers to their location after the plane went down. Eight decades later, planes still go missing, but it is increasingly difficult to fly of the map.
Brian Strzempkowski, Deputy Director of the Center for Aviation Studies, The Ohio State University, and Shawn Pruchnicki, Lecturer, Center for Aviation Studies, The Ohio State University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.