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Find My IPhone Used To Locate Plane Crash In Chile 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the last-call dept.
spagiola writes "Late last week, a military transport aircraft with 17 people on -board went missing near Robinson Crusoe, Chile. The relatives of one of the crash victims logged into Find My iPhone and were able to isolate the coordinates of the last known whereabouts of the plane before it crashed. From the article: 'Rear Admiral Francisco García-Huidobro explained the founding that garnered a lot of attention today, and it has to do with an iPhone belonging to one of the victims of the aereal accident in Juan Fernández, in a beach in Bahía Carvajal. The phone signal could be captured thanks to the GPS system, however, water ended up shutting it down. Nevertheless, García Huidoro explained that they managed to plot the last position from where the signal was last generated, which will be made public tomorrow.'"
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Find My IPhone Used To Locate Plane Crash In Chile

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  • by Fayn (1003629)
    Although it's not just limited to the iPhone. http://www.locatemydroid.com/ [locatemydroid.com] Really, though, this is pretty awesome.
  • Bah! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @05:03PM (#37333590)
    An Android phone would have lasted until the search party arrived!
  • ... someone didn't switch off their phone.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It'd be even better if the planes were carrying something like:

      http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=102

      This is a GPS receiver with a to-satellite transmitter attached, which would be much reliable than depending on a) someone leaving their phone on, and b) being in cell range.

    • And the plane crashed... This is why they tell you to swtich off your phone..

      But really.. They could have been using cell phone triangulation to find this without GPS for years.. I dunno why people don't think of this stuff.

      • by Rhywden (1940872)
        Did you look at a map? The plane crashed near an island which is 600 Kilometres away from the Chilenian coast. I dare say that the lack of cell towers would make a triangulation through said cell towers a bit difficult.
        • by dougmc (70836)

          I dare say that the lack of cell towers would make a triangulation through said cell towers a bit difficult.

          Of course, it would also make talking to the iPhone difficult if the iPhone can't reach any cell phone towers.

          The iPhone may know exactly where it is thanks to it's GPS ... but without cell phone towers, it can't tell anybody. Except the owner, but he already knows.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They can lose a military transport that easy? Or worse yet, they can track on that easy using a phone?

      Don't these aircraft have something more advanced than an iphone app, and for the sake of security, even if they weren't on a military mission shouldn't have that been reason enough to turn off possible tracking devices, such as phones? God knows, we read articles about phone tracking every day.

      I wonder if missiles can be made to follow the emissions of a phone. That could have some interesting applications

      • Military aircraft in the region are often used to support scientific missions and for other civilian purposes. Even if a true military flight, say transportation of cargo, they may allow civilians and off duty military personnel to hitch a ride if there is nothing classified on board. Not every military flight is performed under combat conditions. Sometimes they communicate with civilian air traffic control, have their transponder broadcasting an ID, have all the navigation lights turned on, and may very we
      • Well, you'd need to know the altitude first, and then what kind of delay there is between the phone reporting it's location and how soon it shows up online.
      • by iamhassi (659463)

        Don't these aircraft have something more advanced than an iphone app

        that was my first thought. 2011 and we can't find planes when they crash unless someone onboard has an iPhone? Plane worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and we have to use a $250 iPhone to find it, doesn't that seem wrong?

      • If it's military, it often DOESN'T want to be easy to track. So I don't think you'll find an RFP from the Program Office for their military planes adding a requirement for a squawk that anyone can track. But, yes they should have on during a normal flight a friend indicator for air traffic control. However, it might be possible their SOPs didn't tell them to turn it on for whatever reason. Only their pilots could answer this question.

        Having flown on French, Canadian, German, US and 2 or 3 I'm forgetti

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There were 21 people on-board, and 4 bodies were recovered. The chances to recover the last 17 bodies are almost null.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The iPhone needed to be on for this to work. As we all know, having broadcasting electronics on during a flight will cause a plane to spontaneously explode.

  • Who needs GPS to figure that out?
  • yes there are millions of people with gps applications in their pocket, glad someone found something useful for it

  • Where the people on board military or civilians bringing aid to the earthquake affected area?

    I'd be interested if any military doesn't allow this sort of program since location of a classified or covert operation could easily be shown. Or if someone hacks an account they could track where the person goes/where their base is/etc...

    • by Sir Mal Fet (1402403) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @05:38PM (#37333932)
      To put this in a bit of context, Robinson Crusoe Island (Isla Juan Fernandez is the official name) is very isolated and mostly inhabited by fishermen, and some scientific personnel. It was heavily struck by the tsunami after the earthquake last year, so the national state TV (TVN) conducted a series of short shows about the reconstruction of the island. The flight was carrying personnel to record a follow-up show.

      This was a military operated flight, but only brought civilians (two well-known TV presenters, persons from the National Culture Council, camera men, producers, and people related with the TV network, a businessman and philanthropist which had a ONG regarding the reconstruction, and personnel of said ONG) to record the show, so to answer your question, no, probably there were no problems regarding the tracking of military operations.

      So far the weather conditions plus the fact that the plane crashed at sea has caused that only few bodies have been found (4 confirmed out of 21), so the signal from the iPhone was an important lead to the victims' bodies whereabouts. It certainly beats the clairvoyants they are also using (seriously).

      • by Dthief (1700318)
        I wasnt questioning it on this particular instance, I was just curious in place such as Pakistan where a covert sometimes legal, sometimes illegal operation may occur, if someone has such a tracking program on their phone whether they are just expected to not bring a phone or if just such programs are outright disallowed.

        On further reflection I guess this data is already stored in iPhones at some level in the way that created a big stink earlier this year.

        If you dont want people knowing where soldiers h

      • ONG es en espaniol, en inglés se dice NGO (Non-governmental organization)
    • by spectro (80839)

      Chilean Air Force and Navy make regular trips to supply their remote islands (Juan Fernandez, Easter Island). It is pretty normal to catch a ride in one of these planes or Navy transports if you know somebody. They had to fly there anyways so all these civilians tagged along.

  • by Kylon99 (2430624) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @05:15PM (#37333712)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uruguayan_Air_Force_Flight_571 [wikipedia.org]
    Hearing of a crash in Chile brings up memories of the Andes flight accident in 1972, or better known to some people as the movie, "Alive". Ok, so this time the crash was nowhere near the Andes, but an island.

    But I've always wondered what would've happened if in 1972, they had GPS and mapping technology the way we do today. They could've easily seen where they were without the guesswork and literally strolled off the mountain to the east in less than a day, perhaps. A 20km walk to the east would've gotten them to the highway at least... and at least they would've been off the mountain into thicker and a warmer atmosphere. Not to mention they may have been able to forage for food quickly. ( http://maps.google.com/maps/place?q=Uruguayan+Air+Force+Flight+571+-+Mendoza+Province,+Argentina&hl=en [google.com] )

    I hope technology will improve our chances of survival with accidents like this in the future.

    • Obviously, if someone had been carrying their GPS Map device, they'd've been able to find their way out. I wonder, though, about your typical smart phone. Many mapping applications nowadays use the Internet. No Internet, no map. I would--perhaps rashly--tend to doubt they had cellphone coverage where they crashed. So while they might be able to figure that they were 34.765 degrees South and 70.286389 degrees West, that might not have been much help without appropriate maps showing latitude and longitud

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Also, most phones have AGPS--Assisted GPS. I don't know how well they work without a reasonable cellular network behind them.

        In my experience (and from what I read about it), it's as it says: assisted. The phone will use the mobile network to help find an initial fix - how accurate that is depends on the network. And if I understand it correctly, it even needs a network connection (wifi, mobile data) for that to work. It can be as accurate as 10 meters or so. It is mainly used to get a quick initial location fix; it can take over 10 minutes for GPS to get a fix, as it takes that long to get exact time/location data from the satel

        • by Kylon99 (2430624)

          I was thinking along those lines too and then I remembered; the primary source for their GPS technology would be from the cockpit. Airplanes today would have a GPS tracker and probably enough maps for their route.

          In other words, the pilots wouldn't have even made the miscalculation of not flying through the pass far enough; they would've seen that either they had enough fuel to make it or not enough and turned back.

          If they did somehow crash, their last GPS position should have been known as well by rescuer

          • by wvmarle (1070040)

            OK I don't have aviation experience other than as passenger.

            GPS as I said is passive by nature - only if the plane actively sends back its location to say the control tower they know where it is. That's to this date - think of the trouble they had locating that Air France flight over the ocean, besides that it was of course deep sea, they only had a rough idea on where the plane had come down. And where it came down was probably out of range of normal traffic control.

            Also planes are going much faster than

      • Is it so hard to download the offline maps for Openstreetmap?

        http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]

        Yes its for iphone too.

        The whole planet might take 9gig + but thats nothing on a 64gig iphone

        • Is it so hard to download the offline maps for Openstreetmap?

          Nope. But I don't imagine that most airline passengers actually do this before they fly.

          The whole planet might take 9gig + but thats nothing on a 64gig iphone

          Pity they don't make one of those--highest is 32GB.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      I don't know the exact circumstances or the terrain where this plane crashed, but some things are clear.

      It was high up in a mountain in the snow, during winter. You don't walk 20 km in a day in those conditions, especially not people that are not used to that (like your average airplane passenger aka crash survivor). The plane wreckage provided them with shelter, which you won't find easily elsewhere on a mountain. Probably the people involved also didn't have (enough) warm clothes and so to make it.

      The W

    • It's a little known fact, but Ronald Reagan made the decision back in the 80's that we'd allow civilian use of GPS after the Russians shot down the civilian passenger plane that had veered off course, and into their airspace. It was Sept 1, 1983. Selective Avail was set to next to nothing and A/S was off. So civilians had near-military level of precision. In the early 90s it was turned, effectively, completely off. I was on one of the crews and one of 4 Satellite System Operators that turned it the ind
  • by Jaktar (975138)

    Gee, how did we ever find plane crashes before we had iPhones? You'd think we need to tape an iPhone to the fuselage of every plane to keep track of all these things. Is there some kind of app for air traffic controllers to keep track of all these airborne iPhones? Is there one for Android? Someone needs to get on this.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For this scenario to be true, the iPhone would

    A) Have to be intact and not hung post-crash
    B) Not be submerged to any depth
    C) Be connected to the cellular network in order to get the self-location push request

    And this happened at sea? After a massive impact that shredded everyone? I don't buy it.

    • Not after the crash; the phone managed to connect to a data network sometime before the plane crashed. I've (accidentally) left my phone on and later noticed that it connected to a cell network somewhere over the midwest during a coast-to-coast flight. So it's possible even at cruising altitude.
  • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @07:27PM (#37334772)

    The wreck contained a missing prototype IPhone which was located and recovered by the Apple Security Scuba Team.

  • Felipe Cubillos, progressive businessman and beloved philanthropist, leader of post-earthquake rebuilding campaign "Desafio Levantémos a Chile" (Lift Up Chile Challenge).
    Felipe Camiroaga, TV personality and reporter, on the flight to do a story on rebuilding efforts being conducted on the islands.

  • 'Rear Admiral Francisco GarcÃa-Huidobro explained the founding that garnered a lot of attention today

    Apple was founded in 1976, but I struggle to see how that's relevant.

  • by dudpixel (1429789)

    surely the plane had a GPS as well?

    I mean, were they relying on the iPhone for navigation?

    that might explain something...

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      It seems you don't understand how GPS works.

      For starters: GPS is passive. A GPS device knows where it is; but the GPS satellites have no idea who is listening to their signals, if anyone at all, let alone where they are. So while the plane likely had GPS receivers, so the pilot knows where they are, the plane normally doesn't tell the world where it is.

      In this case said phone apparently has a tracking function active, and regularly sends its current location to a tracking server. Then the wife of one of t

      • by dudpixel (1429789)

        I'm pretty sure every airline knows where their planes are at any given moment.

        Unless this was a private plane, I find it surprising that something wasn't tracking its location.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          I'm pretty sure every airline knows where their planes are at any given moment.

          If you mean that as in "at which airport, or on which route, and when it will arrive at the next destination" then sure, they will know.

          If you mean with that as in "at which exact location above the globe" with exact being less than km resolution, then I'd guess not. Even so, when there is a problem with a plane and it loses contact for whatever reason, it may easily be 100 km away from such a point by the time of a crash.

    • Just to give context, the FAA until very recently banned usage of GPS for navigation. They wanted pilots to rely on tried and true legacy practices that were proven. Only recently have they opened up to allowing GPS usage.

      Chile appears to buy military planes from the US, from a quick Google search I did. However, they would more likely have utilized a dual system that is called INS/GPS. GPS gives an initial fix, but then inertial navigation system is used. Pilots aren't like car drivers. They don't ju

  • A view of the smqll airport in the island http://g.co/maps/cb8tz [g.co] A half mile long track, in between to cliffs. Currently lands about 300+ flights in a year.
  • My wife's phone was stolen from her hospital room while she was down the hall getting an MRI. We suspected the hospital staff but of course there was no way to prove it. Later that day I logged onto the Find my iPhone website and saw that it was in a neighborhood about 20 miles away. I drove to the edge of the subdivision where it was pointing me to and I called the police to let them know that I had tracked down a stolen iPhone and that I needed their help getting it back. They sent out an officer who too

  • ... why someone is sharing their Apple ID password with someone else?

    There can be a small assortment of things associated with an Apple ID that you're not supposed to be sharing with *anybody*... not even one's spouse.

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