INFO LA DEPECHE. Plane crashes: he invents a system based on fluorescent ink to locate aircraft at sea

the essential
After a plane crash in the open sea, emergency services generally take several days to locate the cabin. To speed up research, a man from Lot-et-Garon has just patented a system of ejectable tags which release fluorescent ink. Explanations.

After the crash of the Air France Airbus A330 between Rio and Paris on 1er June 2009, it took search teams a week to find the first debris of the plane. And almost two more years were needed to locate the cabin lying 3,900 m at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and fish out the black boxes. In 2014, flight MH370 vanished without a trace. Ten years later, the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 is still nowhere to be found.

The first debris from flight AF447 was spotted a week after the accident.
Brazilian Navy/AFP

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Faced with this worrying observation, Samuel Riff developed an ingenious device which would make it possible to locate for several days the exact place where a plane had crashed at sea. Passionate about aeronautics, this Lot-et-Garonnais physiotherapist has been working for ten years on a system of ejectable capsules in the event of immersion. With a few thousand euros and the support of Innovate Design based in Paris, he has just filed a patent with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI).

Read also :
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Fixed on the vertical fin of the plane, the beacons eject successively and rise to the surface.
Innovative Design

Tags with fluorescent ink

The solution he proposes consists of three beacons attached to the tail of the planes and each containing around twenty cartridges of fluorescent ink powder. “Studies have shown that the vertical drift is the part of the plane that resists the best in the event of a crash or ditching,” explains Samuel Riff. The first beacon ejects automatically when it finds itself submerged more than two meters deep. Being buoyant, it rises to the surface and releases a dose of fluorescein every hour. This biodegradable dye is used in particular by fighter plane pilots to be spotted in the event of an ejection at sea.

Read also :
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After a certain time or a certain depth, this still remains to be determined, the second beacon, then the third, are ejected and rise to the surface, gradually releasing their fluorescent tracer as well. The ink dispersion cycle can thus be spread over three days. Each beacon would release a different color of ink to help assess the plane’s trajectory after impact.

Each beacon releasing a different color of ink, it will be possible to evaluate the trajectory of the plane after impact.
Each beacon releasing a different color of ink, it will be possible to evaluate the trajectory of the plane after impact.
Innovative Design

Spottable even at night

To be able to spot this ink at night, Samuel Riff plans to incorporate metal particles. Spots on the water surface could thus be visible to pilots equipped with night vision goggles. And to make it even easier to locate the device, a GPS system could also be added to the floating capsules. In the open ocean, where radar and satellite coverage is often lacking, this system could make it possible to significantly reduce the search perimeter, locate the plane and its black boxes more easily and provide more rapid assistance to possible survivors. “We can distinguish colors with a research plane at 4,000 m altitude, therefore covering much larger areas,” explains the inventor. A satellite should even be able to spot the three colors. This would make it possible to make a very rapid mapping and dispatching teams to the area.”

The ink dispersion cycle can be programmed to span three days.
The ink dispersion cycle can be programmed to span three days.
Innovative Design

For his project to succeed, Samuel Riff is now looking for investors. It estimates the sum necessary to develop a prototype, test it in real conditions and certify it at €200,000. For this purpose, he created the company Kaino and says he is now ready to discuss with business angels or industrial partners. Beyond the aeronautics sector, Lot-et-Garonnais specifies that its system could also be adapted to the maritime environment by installing its beacons on boats or containers. So who wants to be his partner?

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