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iPhone GPS plays role in aftermath of Chilean plane crash

updated 01:50 pm EDT, Wed September 7, 2011

Device's signal used to track down remains

An iPhone is serving a vital role in the aftermath of a Chilean airplane crash, reports say. 21 people died in last Friday's accident, which happened near the Juan Fernandez Islands. The turboprop twice attempted to land at the islands' airport before crashing, probably as a result of high winds. While everyone died in the incident, an iPhone appears to have stayed functional long enough for its owner's relatives to use Apple's Find My iPhone service.

Water is thought to have shut the iPhone down, but its last coordinates were shared with the Chilean Navy. The location data should help the Navy to recover more of the wreckage of the plane, as well as more corpses, since as of September 5th only four victims had been found.

by MacNN Staff





    Comment buried. Show
  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I call BS!

    Sorry, this is not possible. iPhones do not BROADCAST to satellites. This story is simply impossible.

  1. aaanorton

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Google it. Most certainly is possible.

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Ever heard of in flight Wifi? Maybe it was accessing cell towers since the flight is low.

  1. macnixer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Find My Phone uses the GPS co-ordinates of an iPhone and it does not have to have a cell-tower or internet connect. I have tested this personally when I traveled to India. I had my precise GPS co-ordinates available to me on the phone so the next thing I tried was check my cousin's phone when he went driving to some obscure locations. Find My Phone got to him with no issues. There are things beyond your comprehension as you are not an engineer.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Lawsuit heading Apple's way!

    Find My iPhone cannot work without it (a) being on, (b) not in airport mode, and (c) near some data transmittal device (cell tower, wifi, etc). Without the data transfer service, there's no way for the iPhone to broadcast it's location to Apple. GPS does not broadcast it's location. It gets signals from satellites and triangulates its position.

    So, since all the above needed to be true, it means some passenger did not heed warnings of the crews and left their iPhone on and transmitting, which could have been the cause of the crash. Some lawyer will assuredly sue Apple for wrongful death, since Apple should have known this could have happened, and should have put a 5-foot warning on the back of the phone informing the users that they shouldn't leave the phone on.

  1. facebook_Andrew

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Sep 2011


    not all countries ban cell phones

    not all countries ban the use of cell phones on planes. In the US it is banned because of the "better safe then sorry" way of thinking. The government banned them because they were not willing to cover the cost of testing to see if it would hurt the planes and the companies are not going to cover that cost either.

  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    Every flight I have been on has only banned electronics during landing and take off. Secondly if mobileme is active it does update with Apple every few minutes so the last known location is displayed. My last trip to San Francisco I was shocked that every once in a while I would get signal from in the Airplane from the ground. So Its def possible for the phone to have sent its GPS data before the crash.

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