Our Federal Aviation Administration is best known for its air traffic and aircraft safety programs, and the FAA works hard to make sure the nation's aviation system operates safely and efficiently. Many Americans are unaware that the FAA also provides 24/7 on-call search and rescue assistance.
If a plane doesn't arrive at its destination, FAA search and rescue professionals spring into action. They begin by analyzing all available information, like the pilot's Flight Plan and the aircraft's Last Known Position. Then they use advanced technology and geo-tools to predict where rescuers should focus their efforts.
We share that crucial information with our partners who conduct the actual search and rescue operations. Searches over water are managed by the US Coast Guard, and land-focused searches are managed by the US Air Force. State and civil agencies may also be involved.
In 2010, all 321 aircraft reported missing in the continental United States were found, and more than 20 survivors were rescued. That's an impressive record.
A decade ago, it could take hours or even days to determine an aircraft's last known position and estimate a probable accident location. Today, thanks to the FAA's search and rescue experts, it can take mere minutes.
And the story doesn't end when we locate and rescue survivors from a missing airplane. The data collected from every search and rescue effort is used to improve the next effort. It's all part of our ongoing mission here at DOT to make America's transportation networks as safe as possible.