A Distributed Sensor Array for Rapid and Low Cost Oceanic Air Crash Localisation

Welsby, Trevor (2017) A Distributed Sensor Array for Rapid and Low Cost Oceanic Air Crash Localisation. [USQ Project]


It is well known that aircraft carry flight data recorders to assist in crash investigation, and these have acoustic underwater locator beacons (ULBs) attached to facilitate recovery from submerged crash sites. The project seeks to develop a new method for locating ULBs that is lower in cost than conventional methods, significantly faster, and, successful in circumstances where existing techniques fail such as very large search areas, particularly deep water, or other non-ideal conditions. The approach uses a large array of low-cost sensors.

Currently ULBs are found using a hydrophone array attached via a cable to a ship and towed over the search area. The array must often sink more than 500 m to get below the seasonal thermocline, which requires a large tow vessel to physically traverse the search area in a grid pattern; this is time consuming, expensive and vulnerable to weather conditions. The proposed solution would be deployed from aircraft during the search for floating wreckage and would be unaffected by weather.

The prototype has been designed and key components have been tested in isolation and in a partially integrated state. The low-cost objective was achieved using a small number of inexpensive components with almost no moving parts and, importantly, no pressure vessel. Further work is required on the hydrophone sensitivity as well as the general robustness and reliability of the mechanical components. It will also be necessary to add a GPS receiver and satellite transmitter.

The feasibility of using an array of inexpensive sensors to locate underwater acoustic beacons has been demonstrated. With further work it is hoped that this approach may yield significant cost savings over conventional methods.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechatronic)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Low, Tobias
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2022 03:58
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2022 03:58
Uncontrolled Keywords: flight data recorders; underwater locator beacons (ULBs); locating
URI: https://sear.unisq.edu.au/id/eprint/40855

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