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Better Safe(Sky) than Sorry ! What if SafeSky had been used in recent flight incidents?

Updated: Mar 8, 2023


The adage "Better Safe than Sorry" is well known and alludes to taking preventive actions rather than risking potential consequences.


Even though we are all aware of and presumably agree with these wise words, for some reason, human beings tend to prefer thinking that bad things only happen to others.

And thus, the famous adage is frequently disregarded.



Rather Sorry than Safe in the air?

In General Aviation as well, we dare to defy fate. Some of us fly without any detection mode, radio or Search & Rescue (SAR) solution. Is it because the taste of freedom outweighs the taste of security? Or the joy of sharing an incredible moment with a loved one makes us forget about certain realities? Or we believe that “no guts are no glory”? Or maybe we are just overconfident?


We can all agree that the adage does not apply to all situations, but when pure survival is at stake, it certainly does.

So why do we disregard this moral compass when it comes to potentially risking our own and other people's lives?



S**t does happen

Unfortunately, this is when drama happens. For some aircraft categories, 2021 is the worst year since 2014 in terms of fatal accidents (source: EASA Annual Report 2022) .


Here are just a few examples of serious incidents that happened in 2022 that were made public:

Country

When?

July 2022

September 2022

December 2022

What?

ULM forced landing due to motor issues

ULM crashes going to the MULM in Blois

ULM crashes in river

Time lost

Plane missing for 2.5 hours

Plane missing for >5 hours

Plane missing for 1 day

Casualties

No casualties

2 casualties

2 casualties

SafeSky/SAR use

Using SafeSky but SAR not configured nor used

Using SafeSky but SAR not configured nor used

Not using SafeSky, no SAR raised*

* According to media, the magistrate had refused to geolocate the occupants’ mobile phone for data protection reasons.



What do these events have in common?

In each case:

  • significant time was lost

  • the pilot did not use SafeSky or its Search & Rescue feature

  • the SafeSky team was contacted head-over-heels by the authorities hoping that we could assist them in locating the plane. Which, in most cases, we did, in a split of a second, with the exact position

Although we are always extremely happy to help where we can, it also makes us sad. Very often, drama could have been easily avoided or resolved sooner by the pilots themselves.


Would you rather take control of your own fate or rely on our team's availability?



What are your SAR options?


1. Personal Locator Beacon

Being equipped with an emergency beacon is an excellent option, especially for frequent travellers. Using the Global 406 MHz worldwide search and rescue system, the personal locator is connected to and monitored by professional search and rescue organisations all over the world. The downside however is the significant cost, approximately 400€.


2. Localisation tools – ADS-B out and FLARM out

Having a localisation device is a good start. But it has its limitations. For instance, ADS-B out / FLARM out is likely not to flawlessly function below 1,500 feet or in some of the most hazardous areas like mountains. Yet this is one of the situations in which SafeSky performs at its best. In the event of technical issue, secondary radars (radio) may monitor your localisation up to 1,500 feet, but probably not to the aircraft's final position on the ground.


3. Mobile operators

One might assume that mobile operators could offer assistance given that usually we carry our mobile phone with us. As with the Spanish incident, geolocation of mobile phones is governed by extremely tight GDPR laws, the approval of which often takes even more precious time. What is more, this type of geolocation is generally very approximative because it is based on a triangulation process that only allows for the estimation of an approximate radius.


4. SafeSky

SafeSky has a free “Search and Rescue” feature. In just one click SAR services would be alerted – via the pilot’s contacts – of their exact location.

We fully acknowledge that in case of distress, the pilot would not always be physically or mentally able to use the SAR function. That’s fully understandable. In that case, upon the authorities’ formal request, the SafeSky team can pinpoint the plane’s last registered position as it is passively tracked.



WHAT IF … SafeSky had been used in the recent flight incidents in Spain, France and Iceland?

(picture of the search and rescue teams desperately looking for the airplane that disappeared in Spain)


So, let’s go back to the three recent incidents described above. What if these pilots would have set-up and proclaimed a “Search and Rescue” via SafeSky?

  • The pilots would have informed instantly their contact persons and consequently the authorities of their precise location

  • The search team would have saved precious time, potentially lifesaving

  • The search would not have been blocked by legal GDPR processes*

  • The pilots might still be alive

*By activating the SAR with SafeSky, the pilot would have implicitly authorised tracking his location when pressing the MAYDAY button.

Conclusion There are several detection options but none of them is perfect. Having a traffic detection device is great, having or adding SafeSky and its SAR feature to it is far greater. SafeSky has proven its reliability, is for free and takes only half-a-second to launch on your mobile phone, which is absurdly small when compared to the possible loss if it were not done. Its SAR feature is active in 29 countries.

So next time we want to spread our wings, let's think about the advice we would give to our loved ones: "Be careful!" or rather "Better SafeSky than Sorry".

"If only s/he had turned on SafeSky". We sincerely hope we won’t to have to hear that statement again in 2023 from the air incident authorities when they desperately come to us.

WHAT IF … national SAR authorities would be harmonised at European level?

Since we let our dreams run wild ... what if there would be a European harmonisation of the SAR services with one single portal that would share pilots’ positions? SafeSky has already reached out to them to discuss and lead this initiative. So far responses have been very supportive. So hopefully more on that later…

 

What are you waiting for?

📲 Download SafeSky now! It's free of charge!


How to set-up the SafeSky SAR feature?

· Go to “Preferences”

· Select the “Search & Rescue” widget

· Read the procedure “SafeSky SAR.pdf(optional)

· Accept the SafeSky SAR procedure

· Enable SAR and verify mobile connection

· Enter contacts A, B and C. Once the contacts have given their approval, their inclusion in the list will be activated



How to initiate a SAR alert in SafeSky?

Simply by hitting the MAYDAY button in the upper left corner of the screen. If needed, you have five seconds to annul the emergency before the alerts are sent to your contacts.


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