Indian Air Force (IAF), Navy and Coast Guard with 16 warships and were mounted a huge search and rescue operation for an IAF plane that went missing with 29 people on board over the Bay of Bengal on Friday. The plane has been missing on his way from Tamil Nadu to Andaman. Four officers including a woman, 17 other military personnel and eight civilians were feared killed.
Air Force sources said that the AN-32 aircraft, which was under squadron of Coimbatore Sulu, flew from Chennai Air Force base at 8.30 am on Monday. The pilot lieutenant Vadsara, Co-Pilot Nandal and navigator flight lieutenant Kunal’s team had contacted with Chennai Air Traffic Control (ATC) room. The last radio contact was at 8.46am. The plane was seen in Chennai ATC’s radar until 9.13am. According to ATC documents, at that time the plane was above The Bay of Bengal, 099 degrees / 151 nautical miles (about 80 kilometers) away east of Chennai, 23000 ft. from the sea level. Suddenly, it was observed to have carried out a left turn with quick loss of height from its flying altitude of 23,000ft. There was no Mayday call from the pilot. The endurance of the aircraft was 4 hours and 15 minutes.
The news came to Kolkata ATC. They control most of the sky of the Bay of Bengal. Though they tried to contact with the lost aircraft, it was not found yet.
13 fighter ship of Navy were sent to the place of the sea where the plane seems to have lost the way. P-8I of Navy, C-130J Super Hercules and three Dornier aircraft were patrolled the area. But still they failed to find any trace. A Sindhughosh-class submarine was also abstracted from an “ongoing mission“ to “seek underwater transmissions from the locator beacon of the aircraft“ but there was no clue of the unfortunate medium-lift aircraft till late in the evening. An officer said that the search will be continued throughout the night.
The plane had reportedly developed at least three minor technical snags this month. But still, why the plane was allowed to fly, now that is a big question. However, the Air Force officials said that that was a small mechanical problem. After checking all the parts thoroughly the plane was allowed to depart.
The plane used to travel thrice a week from Chennai to Car Nicobar through Port Blair. Mainly necessary provisions, staff and officers of the Army and their family had to travel. On the day 8 of 9 people on the flight were relatives of the officers and workers.
Last year, while patrolling a coast guard Dornier aircraft went missing at the coast of Chennai near The Bay of Bengal. Almost after three weeks of searching the plane wreckage and the body of the worker-officers were found. Some of the Coast Guards fear that something bad may have happened to the missing plane. The sea is so turbulent in the area that searching for the missing aircraft is also a problem.
However, Air Craft missing from the middle of the sky is not new. Just two and a half years ago, on March 8, 2014, Malaysian Airline flight MH370 suddenly goes missing in the middle of the night above the South China Sea. The Boeing 777 was travelling with 227 passengers and 12 workers from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Any trace of that missing plane or the passengers could not found till date.