Indian Air Force plane with 29 on board goes missing - NEWS SENTRY


Friday, 22 July 2016

Indian Air Force plane with 29 on board goes missing

NEW DELHI: An Indian Air Force (IAF) plane with 29 people on board has gone missing over the Bay of Bengal amid inclement weather.

The IAF's AN-32 plane took off from Tambaram in Chennai for Port Blair in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands when it lost radar contact around 8:45 am. Its estimated time of arrival in Port Blair was 11.30 am.

The Navy, the Coast Guard and the IAF have launched a joint search and rescue operation. Of the 29 people on board, six are crew members.

The Navy has involved a P8I aircraft and a Donier aircraft, and four ships — Karmukh, Gharial, Jyoti and Kuthar - for its search operation.

The aircraft can fly for up to four hours without refuelling.

Air traffic control sources at Chennai airport said that the aircraft usually flies at 21,000 to 23,000 feet level which is much lower than civil aircraft altitude. It carries supplies for the defence base in Andamans daily.

"Routine military movements are not closely tracked because such planes fly well below the altitude of commercial carriers over the sea. The flight often goes off contact on radar after it crosses 150 miles away from Chennai because the signal strength is poor and it may not be equipped with modern tracking system. Pilot will be in touch with voice communication if needed. Its absence will be known only when it does not show up at a particular place under the range of Port Blair or before," an air traffic control source said.

As a routine message did not arrive, Chennai airport and air force authorities alerted other planes in the vicinity. As blip could not be tracked, it was declared missing, he added. 

More military assets are also being sent to help in the search and rescue operation.

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