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Operational Research

The hunt for MH370 – the answer was in the data

Amidst the tragedy of Flight MH370 there is a fascinating story of how the likely location of the ‘plane could be identified.  Using geostationary satellite location and a basic knowledge of 777 specs, can we predict the likely locations of MH370?  That’s the question asked by Conor Myhrvold and discussed here.

Conor says”Thanks to engineering ingenuity by Inmarsat, a satellite service, we now have a very good idea of where the Boeing 777 wound up: far flung off the West Coast of Australia.”

Using data available in the public domain and the Monte Carlo simulation method, Conor was able to narrow down the likely location of the missing ‘plane, as shown in this map:

As we now know, his predicted location has proved to be correct.

Conor ends by saying “One obvious conclusion from the difficulty of locating the MH370 over these past two plus weeks is that if rent-a-cars can have monitoring devices which track their whereabouts at all times, as can a several hundred dollar Windows Phone or iPhone with the swipe of a button, then so should an aircraft which costs over a quarter billion dollars.”

 

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