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Waitt Institute

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General Flight Path Reconstruction

Re-navigation based on all available information

Research requirements demanded an extensive effort.
A fundamental research strategy was centered in an attempt to recreate the aerodynamic and environmental aircraft performance on the final flight, from well-established fact, well-founded inference, logical and experienced-based assumptions, and a critical application of statistical analysis of historical flight parameters, human factors and behaviors.

An area of inescapable uncertainty in the true location of this aircraft will always exist until a discovery is made. This research resulted in improvements in understanding the associated flight path, mission elapsed and endurance times, fuel consumption, and the probability for artifact detection.

Our research methodology included a new approach to the navigation of the flight profile. Previous works generally used averages of total distance, divided by mission time, to ascertain location.

This research took a different approach by modeling the Electra with the following references

Flight performance data from the Lockheed 487 Report (L487)

Kelly Johnson telegrams of calculated and actual aircraft performance, and in-flight test data

Corroborated Lockheed 10A operating data, with virtually the same horsepower per pound of aircraft weight as the Lockheed 10E, slightly less frontal area due to smaller engine cowlings, and a Cambridge Fuel Analyzer of the type used by AE

Data from AE Electra flights prior to the World Flight

Historical statistical speed data from AE’s prior World Flight segments

Validated data from Long’s wind assessments

Swenson and Culick’s aircraft drag, speed and fuel consumption computational results

Aircraft and engine performance from operating manuals of aircraft using the same engine as in AE’s Electra (North American T-6, for example)

Fuel consumption analysis referencing actual Pratt-Whitney Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC) data for the R-1340-S3H1 engine, used by AE’s Lockheed 10E.

A software model was created in Jeppesen FliteStar flight planning software, and used to construct flight plans from Lae to Howland via three paths. Takeoff, climb, cruise, and descent were re-calculated by segments, with performance integrated manually from multiple sources. Fuel consumption was examined by profile segments, summed across the profile, and validated from multiple source data. A more precise, manual computational analysis of fuel consumption was made from resources, further refining this important factor.