New Delhi / Chennai (PTI) : An Indian Air Force AN-32 aircraft, carrying 29 people including Air Force and Naval officers that was headed for Port Blair from Chennai disappeared on Friday morning. Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard together have undertaken an extensive search campaign in the Bay of Bengal. But what is adding to worries of all is the fact that the whereabouts of the missing plane are still untraceable.
Around 8.30 am on the morning of 22nd July the aircraft took off from Tambaram, Chennai for Port Blair the capital of Andaman & Nicobar islands. But after 13 minutes, this aircraft lost its communication with the radar. As per the information given by Air Force officer this aircraft was supposed to reach Port Blair at around 11.30 am in the morning. Before losing the contact with the radar, the pilot informed the control room that the situation was normal. But due to sudden loss of communication it was hard to find out what happened after that. Air Force informed that when the contact with the radar was lost, the aircraft was at around a height of 23,000 feet.
After the failure to contact the plane, search operations for it have been undertaken. 12 Naval and 2 Coastal Guard ships are searching for the aircraft. Apart from this the Navy’s Dornier planes, are also being used in search operations. Air Force’s has deployed its ‘P8-I Poseidon‘ aircraft as part of the search operations.
The plane was carrying 12 Air Force officers and one officer each from Navy, Army and Coast Guard. Also on-board this plane there were, 8 family members of these officers.
There are more than 100 ‘AN-32’ Russian-made planes in the Indian Air Force. These planes are used for defence transport, mainly in movement of soldiers. Soldiers are carried to and fro to the bases in strategically important Malacca Strait by these planes. These aircrafts can fly for four hours in any weather conditions, therefore there is a mystery surrounding their sudden disappearance.
Meanwhile, the plane that disappeared had previously reported three technical problems in the month of July. On 2nd July there was a complained for slow flying. Then on 7th July a hydraulic leakage was reported. And on 14th July there was pressure leak reported by the pilot. So the technical problems of the plane are being taken into consideration by the Defense Ministry which has given orders for investigation of the incident.