An Investigation into the Location of the Crashed Aircraft Through the Use of Free Satellite Images


Remote sensing data and techniques are being utilized for various purposes including natural disasters such as earthquake as well as flood mapping and detection. The research aims to consume liberates Landsat 8 images for investigating crashed airplanes such as MH370. Overall approximately 300 Landsat images with less than 10% clouds within a defined period were processed and utilized through the Google Earth Engine Platform. Due to the variation of materials as well as the colour of airplane body being different from the area in which the plane crash occurred, the characteristics of the template of a plane’s shape should be different in terms of albedo, temperature as well as a vegetation index value. The research demonstrates the potential of Landsat 8 data especially, the NDVI, the albedo and reflectance of band 4 are capable of distinguishing between the plane and its surrounding green area. Therefore, our result confirms that during the research period, there was no plane on the location and further adds that there is no evidence from the remote sensing to justify the presence of the crashed MH370 in the site as earlier reported.


Untersuchung zur Positionsbestimmung von abgestürzten Flugzeugen auf Grundlage von frei verfügbaren Satellitenszenen. Mit dieser Arbeit soll die Eignung von Landsat 8 Szenen für die Suche nach abgestürzten Flugzeugen wie der MH370 gezeigt werden. Verarbeitet wurden ca. 300 Szenen mit einem Bewölkungsgrad von weniger als 10% unter Nutzung der Google Earth Engine. Die Materialien des Flugzeugrumpfes und seine Farbe erlauben eine deutliche Unterscheidung von der Vegetation in der Umgebung. Es wurde gezeigt, dass bei Landsat 8 Szenen insbesondere der NDVI, die Albedo und die Reflektanz von Band 4 diese Unterscheidung gewährleisten können.

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The author would like to thank the Google Earth Engine program. Furthermore, much gratitude goes to the USGS, for providing the research with liberates Landsat 8 images. Thanks to Dr. Saad Ibrahim for proofreading the paper.


This research received no external funding.

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Correspondence to Azad Rasul.

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Rasul, A. An Investigation into the Location of the Crashed Aircraft Through the Use of Free Satellite Images. PFG 87, 119–122 (2019).

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  • Remote sensing
  • Crashed aircraft
  • NDVI
  • Albedo
  • MH370
  • Landsat 8