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In September 2017, Air France Flight 66 enroute from Paris to Los Angeles suffered an uncontained engine failure above the Greenland and had to make an emergency landing at Goose Bay Airport, Canada. The rightmost of the Airbus A380s 4 engines failed, and the fan hub and intake separated at cruising altitude. 

The investigation of the accident uncovered some initial debris on the Greenlandic Icesheet in the days following the accident, but the fan hub parts was not found. This led to large area synthetic-aperture radar search in 2018 followed by a ground-penetrating radar field-campaign, however both campaigns failed to locate the missing the engine fragments. 

After the 2018 field campaign, the HydroGeophysics Group at Aarhus University was contacted to see if the tTEM system could be used as tool to locate the missing engine fragments. This led to the development of the SnowTEM system, which in essence became a time-domain electromagnetic metal detector.

The estimated size and burial depth of the lost engine fragment required a boost in signal to noise ratio. This was achieved by increasing the transmitter coil area and number of turns, and thus increasing the transmitter moment, and by increasing the receiver coil area. The current waveform, repetition frequency and TX-RX-coil distance were also optimized for the endeavor.

Tests prior to the 2019 field campaign were carried out in Denmark and Sweden, and at +3000 m elevation in the Swiss alps.


In May 2019, we succesfully located the one part, constituting the majority of the missing engine fragments.  

Read more about the endeavor in the Journal of Glaciology

While we hope the necessity to locate future dropped engine parts remain low, we plan to reuse the SnowTEM moniker when mapping in arctic regions.


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