Emergency management: Seismology to minimise aircraft crash location search time.
MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The location of the wreckage of a missing aircraft is always a great challenge for emergency teams. In the immediate aftermath of an aircraft accident the chances of someone surviving the occurrence are considered to be low by some people. In fact, the survival probability for a passenger or a crew member of an aircraft crash depends on the search and rescue teams’ rapidity and ability to locate the wreckage of the missing aircraft.
However, techniques in the hands of the aeronautical rescue coordination centre staff could sometimes lead to unsuccessful searches. Aeronautical search techniques are restricted to favourable weather conditions. Cospas-sarsat satellites won’t give the precise latitude and longitude of the distress beacon carried by the missing aircraft. Emergency locator transmitters have shown their technical limits.
A solution worth considering for this issue is to approach seismology as a possible tool in detecting and locating aircraft accident sites. Ground motion waves generated by different events such as volcano eruptions, earthquakes, aircraft sonic booms, tornadoes and hurricanes are recorded by various seismographs all over the planet. By triangulating the records of three seismic stations the location of the events can be determined precisely and rapidly.
In this thesis the different aeronautical means of searches are assessed, namely the aeronautical search techniques, the cospas-sarsat satellites system and the emergency locator transmitter. Subsequently, twelve aircraft accidents with search operations are analysed. Finally, seismology is introduced as a new tool that emergency managers could use to minimize the search duration of the location of a missing aircraft. An overview of seismology is given followed by a description of the preliminary results of an experiment conducted at Prestwick international airport in Scotland. Finally, one aircraft accident of the past is used as an example to illustrate the possibilities offered by seismology.
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