What is Contour Search Pattern as per IAMSAR ?


  • Used around mountains and in valleys when sharp changes in elevation make other patterns not practical.
  • Search is started from highest peak and goes from top to bottom with new search altitude for each circuit.
  • Search altitude intervals may be 150 m to 300 m (500 ft to 1,000 ft).
  • The aircraft may make a descending orbit away from the mountain before resuming the contour search at the lower altitude.
  • The aircraft may spiral downwards around the mountain at a low but approximately constant rate of descent when there is not enough room to make a circuit opposite to the direction of search.
  • If the mountain cannot be circled, successive sweeps at the same altitude intervals as listed above should be flown along its side.
  • Valleys are searched in circles, moving the centre of the circuit one track spacing after each completed circuit.


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