For which crash sites of medium to large aircraft are sonar images available ?


  • The crash site should already be confirmed (not speculated).
  • For the purpose of this question, let's define "medium to large" as aircraft seating at least 10 persons or an at least equally sized cargo aircraft. This excludes small aircraft, like World War fighter planes for which sonar images exist by the dozen.

Below are the only cases I was able to find. If you you know other cases (or can provide the missing images below), please include the images in your answers if possible.

  • Air France flight AF447
    • 228 occupants, Airbus A330-203, lost:2009, found:2011, depth:3980m
    • location: mid Atlantic Ocean
    see paper "AF447 Underwater Search and Recovery Operations" (pages 6+14) AF447 sonar image    

  • EgyptAir flight EA990/MS990
    • 217 occupants, Boeing 767-366ER, lost+found:1999
    • location: Atlantic Ocean, 100 km south of Nantucket
    see article: "Pilot Suicide: When It's The Captain Who Crashes The Plane" EA990 sonar image     ­ 

  • EgyptAir flight EA804/MS804
    • 66 occupants, Airbus A320-232, lost+found:2016, depth:3000m
    • location: offshore Egypt [avherald]
    I couldn’t find any publicly available sonar images of this crash site, but some must exist, because Deep Ocean Search (DOS) wrote here:

    « With the agreement of the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority and the French Safety Investigation Authority (BEA), DOS have supplied the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) with side scan sonar data of the MS804 crash site in order to assist with the on-going MH370 search. »

    In a press release, DOS explains:

    « At this moment, DOS ltd is not authorized to supply any pictures, videos, chart and/or positions linked with the investigation. »   ­ 
    ­ ­  

  • Indian Air Force An-32 crash
    • 29 occupants, Antonov An-32, lost:2016, found:2024, depth:3400m
    • location: Indian Ocean, off the coast of Chennai (India)
    Again, I was unable to find sonar images of the crash site, but some do exist (maybe not in the public domain since it is a military aircraft):

    « This search was conducted at a depth of 3,400 metres using multiple payloads, including a multi-beam SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging) — a synthetic aperture SONAR and high resolution photography. Analysis of search images had indicated the presence of debris of a crashed aircraft on the sea bed approximately 140 nautical miles (approximately 310 km) from the Chennai coast, the IAF said in a statement. It added that the search images were scrutinised and found to be conforming with an An-32 aircraft. » sources: 1 2   ­ 
    ­ ­ 

  • South African Airways Flight SA295/SAA295
    • 159 occupants, Boeing 747-244BM Combi, lost:1987, found:1988, depth:4400m
    • location: near Mauritius
    I couldn't find any sonar images. Allegedly sonar images are presented in the "Mayday" televised series, but they could be just illustrative examples rather than the original images.   ­ 
    ­ ­ 

  • Flash Airlines flight FSH604
    • 148 occupants, Boeing 737-3Q8, lost+found:2004, depth:1000m
    • location: Red Sea, close to airport Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt)
    I was unable to find sonar images. "Deep Ocean Search" participated again [source], assumingly using sonar.

  • $\begingroup$ You seem to have done more research on this than most. I.e. your "question" reads more like an answer! ;) I'd almost consider editing to ask a much simplified question, then provide the ones you have researched as an answer to stimulate other competing answers. Just a thought, because it doesn't seem likely that many others here will have done as much work as you already have... $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


Deep Sea Vision, an ocean exploration company, says it may have found Amelia Earhart's plane:

« By using sonar imaging, a tool for mapping the ocean floor that uses sound waves to measure the distance from the seabed to the surface, the group has spotted an anomaly in the Pacific Ocean — more than 16,000 feet (4,877 meters) underwater — that resembles a small aircraft. The team believes that anomaly could be a Lockheed 10-E Electra, the 10-passenger plane that Earhart was piloting when she went missing while attempting to fly around the world. » source: CNN

sonar image

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. I have updated the question to exclude speculated crash sites. I had not thought about this possibility. $\endgroup$
    – summerrain
    Commented Jun 8 at 10:45
  • $\begingroup$ Note the anomaly was discovered by chance while analyzing data on the ground. Whether it's a plane and it's Earhart's plane needs to be confirmed by going back to the site (undisclosed location) and actually exploring it, as the article says. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jun 8 at 12:31

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