Long range UAVs as indispensable aircraft in search and rescue operations.


SAR operations always were expensive for the government, hard for infrastructure, exhausting and the same time risky for people. Let’s take a look at one of the most expensive SAR operations in the last years, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 perhaps the most publicized SAR operation of the last years. Same time the most expensive search effort ever undertaken.

During search operations, 118,000 square miles off the southwest Australian coast represented the preliminary search area.

After the first week of using a narrowed search range, vessels broadened the search area significantly. By April 28th, almost two months after Flight 370’s disappearance, 19 ships and 345 aircraft sweeps had conducted a surface search that covered approximately 1.8 million square miles of the Indian Ocean.

Back in June of 2014, Time valued the monetary expenditures for the search effort up to that point at the equivalent of $70 million. By the time all search operations ceased, the bill amounted to over $100 million, warranting the mission recognition as the most expensive aviation search and rescue operation ever.

Now let’s talk about 345 aircraft used during the SAR operations. When we are talking about SAR, it is very important that aircraft should stay on low altitude, so clouds will not cover the ground or water surface, for plane its mean serious losses in distance of fly with higher fuel consumption.

Unmanned System Search and Rescue UAV

Long range UAVs like Raybird – 3 was designed to fly on altitude up to 3000 meters, and it can travel around 2500 kilometers, this result seriously better than for helicopters and very compatible with ultra light, light and medium aviation.  

Next is fuel. During the flight on low altitude, plane will use even more fuel than average flight, which is also not cheap. On low altitude, it can be 300$ – 400$ per hour, while UAV Raybird 3 will use 1$ – 2$ per hour. The difference is huge! 1000 hours of Raybird 3 flight will cost like 3 hours of search and rescue plane flight. Now imagine 345 aircrafts were used during the SAR, and it is only about fuel.

sar mission uav fuel

Next important point is 345 aircraft should take off somewhere and land. Even if all 345 aircraft will do 2 trips, not every airport can handle it, it’s a lot of airports where 345 vehicles will be serviced easy for sure, but you never know where trouble will happen, and usually, it will be far away from the comfortable airport. Long range UAVs can be delivered to any place for takeoff, it can be field, roof, truck or even minibus like VW transporter which you can see around the city every day.

Even if you have handy airport not far from SAR area, you will travel distance to reach the place and then come back.

long range uavs search and rescue works and missions

Also, do not forget that usually plane will have at least two persons on board, mostly 3 to 5 persons. 345 aircrafts mean at least 700 people in the air taking a risk. While 100 long-range UAVs Raybird need 12 persons to control fleet, for 345 UAV will be 42 persons staying safe on the ground.

We just describe narrow part of the situation. We did not talk about technical service of vehicle, preparation time and complication of all process together.

Today we can say for sure, that long-range UAVs ready for SAR operations and they more efficient and easy to use.

One comment

  • Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your website is very useful. Thank you for sharing!


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