‘Find My iPhone’ Data Assists Chilean Navy After Crash

A member of the Chilean navy holds up flags as a signal to divers who are searching aircraft wreckage on a shore at the Juan Fernandez Islands, about 676km (420 miles) off Chile's coast, September 5, 2011. All 21 people aboard a military aircraft that crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the remote Juan Fernandez islands perished, Chile's government said on Saturday, as rescuers and fishermen searched for bodies. Search and rescue teams have recovered four bodies so far from Friday's crash, one of Chile's worst air disasters in recent years.It’s not a happy ending — but it does show the power of GPS technology and smartphones. Last week, 21 lives were lost in a military aircraft crash involving a Casa C-212 operated by the Chilean Air Force last week. The pilots aborted the landing twice because of strong crosswinds, but the aircraft ended up crashing into the sea on its third approach.

Four bodies were recovered as of the time of this writing, but more were expected to be found, thanks to the location data provided by a passenger’s iPhone, which apparently was intact and operational after the accident.

A relative of the victim logged into Apple’s Find My iPhone service and successfully located the aircraft’s last known position before the crash. The information was then forwarded to the Navy, where it was used in the search mission and, ultimately, to help locate the wreckage.

A translated Spanish report courtesy of 9to5Mac reader Rodrick:

Rear Admiral Francisco García-Huidobro explained the finding that garnered a lot of attention today, and it has to do with an iPhone belonging to one of the victims of the aerial 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.

Navy Special Forces are expected to go down to the ocean floor and recover the device on the fifth day of the search. The iPhone is expected to be near the place where a wheel from the crashed plane was found on Friday.

Source: 9to5Mac
Photo credit: National Post – Reuters/Luis Hidalgo