Authorities continue to look for the missing Indian Air Force plane AN-32 in full swing as Union Defence minister Manohar Parrikar reached Chennai early on Saturday to monitor the massive search operation. The aircraft, with 29 people on board, has been missing over the Bay of Bengal soon after it took-off from Chennai to Port Blair on Friday.
“Reached Tambaram to monitor operations on IAF AN-32 aircraft,” Parrikar tweeted upon his arrival in Chennai.
A massive search operation has been launched by the IAF, Navy and the Coast Guard for tracking the upgraded plane which made the last radio contact at 0846 hours, 16 minutes after take-off from Tambaram air base on Friday.
While the operations are on a full swing, Defence sources said no detection has been made till now.
One navy submarine, eight aircraft and 13 ships have been pressed for tracking the upgraded plane in a massive search and rescue operation which has been going on since Friday.
The 29 people on board the Air Force’s workhorse for a long period included six crew members, two of them pilots and one navigator. Besides, there were 11 personnel from the IAF including an officer, two from the Army, one from the Coast Guard and 9 from the navy which included some from its armament depot.
“We will put all assets available with us in search operation for IAF aircraft AN-32,” Wing Commander Anupam Banerjee had told the press on Friday.
In the last contact made, the aircraft flight level was at 23000ft and it had covered 1375 KMs.
Indian Navy‘s Public Relations officer said an overdue procedure has been issued and many assets will be added to support the SAR operation.
“Indian Navy has launched full scale search and rescue to look for the aircraft,” said Captain DK Sharma, Navy PRO.
The AN-32 aircraft is a twin-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It has excellent take-off characteristics in hot and high conditions. The AN-32 is suitable for air-dropping cargo, passenger carrying, fire fighting, skydiving or para trooping roles.
(With inputs from the Agencies)