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Mysterious disappearance of IAF's AN-32

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 05, Jun 2019, 16:51 pm IST | UPDATED: 05, Jun 2019, 16:52 pm IST

Mysterious disappearance of IAF's AN-32 Itanagar: Despite inclement weather, a massive search operation is on for an Indian Air Force (IAF) AN-32 transport aircraft with 13 people onboard that went missing over Arunachal Pradesh. The mystery behind what happened to the aircraft continues as families of those on board the plane wait for answers even after two of its disappearance

On Wednesday, the IAF pressed into service a SU-30 jet fighter, C130 J, Mi17 and ALH helicopters to trace the missing Russian-origin transporter aircraft that was last seen on Monday afternoon.
 


FINDING AN-32: THE TASK

    • The searches were taking place along thickly forested routes between Assam's Jorhat and Mechuka advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh. Reports say the thick vegetation in the region around is making it making it impossible to see from the air.

    • According to private weather forecaster Skymet, “all these aircrafts have weather radars on board but despite this, accidents happen as the terrain in which the aircraft is difficult and complex. Weather conditions are usually bad in the hills, but the terrain makes it worse.”

    • The report further said that "the airplanes flying in the valley have to undergo very complex weather conditions.These areas can see a 180 degree turn in weather in just a few hours and a bright sunny day can become a snowy one in no time."

    • “Even when the pilot comes across inclement weather, it is difficult for the pilot to turn around as to turn aircrafts, space is needed which is not available in terrains like these. Thus, with no maneuvering space, the pilot does not have another option other than moving forward,” it added.


 

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellites -- CARTOSAT and RISAT -- were also taking images of the area.

Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal R.D. Mathur is monitoring the search and rescue operations. He had interacted with the families of the missing IAF personnel.

In addition, the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Arunachal Police and local communities were trekking on the ground to search for the missing aircraft.

"The search is still on but the missing AN-32 is yet to be sighted," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh told IANS.

On Monday, the AN-32 transporter had taken off from Assam's Jorhat at 12.27 p.m. for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh's Shi-Yomi district bordering China.

The aircraft lost contact with the ground staff at 1.30 p.m.

On Tuesday, the Indian Navy's Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft P8i conducted an aerial survey to locate the partly upgraded AN-32 aircraft.

Air tragedies in recent years 

    • Exactly 10 years ago, another IAF AN-32 with 13 people on board had gone missing on its way from the Mechuka ALG to Rowriah airport in Jorhat. After an exhaustive searchh operation, its wreckage was found the next day around 60km from Mechuka. All the 13 persons on board were killed in the crash.

    • In July 2016, another AN-32 had disappeared over the Bay of Bengal having 29 people on board. The aircraft was headed to Andaman and Nicobar Islands and had lost contact with the radar almost an hour after it had taken off from the Tambaram air force station, Chennai. The search was called off on September 2016 since the aircraft was not found. All 29 on board were presumed dead.

    • On April 30, 2011, five persons including Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu, who took off in single engine EuroCopter B8 of Pawan Hans, died after the chopper crashed between Kyela and Lubuthang near Tawang district. The wreckage was found on May 4, 2011.


(With additional information from IANS)
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