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With no signs of debris, search continues for AN-32 aircraft

The last contact with the aircraft was established roughly around 15-20 minutes after the take-off, sources said.

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IAF AN-32 went missing on Friday. Image Source: sputniknews.com
  • A Coast Guard official told IANS that there was sightings of any aircraft debris in the Bay of Bengal by the search team
  • The aircraft, an upgraded AN-32 belonging to 33 Squadron, took off from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai at 8.30 a.m., and was expected to land at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 11.30 a.m., officials said, describing it as a “routine sortie”
  • The incident comes a year after a Coast Guard Dornier aircraft with three crew members on board for a routine surveillance flight went missing

With no sightings of any debris in the Bay of Bengal, search for the AN-32 aircraft with 29 people on board that went missing on Friday morning, continued on Saturday said an official of Indian Air Force (IAF).

“The search is going on. If there is any substantial development it will be made known,” Wing Commander Anupam Banerjee, Public Relations Officer for IAF told IANS over phone from New Delhi on Saturday, July 23.

IAF AN-32. Image Source: defence.pk
IAF AN-32. Image Source: defence.pk

A Coast Guard official told IANS that there was sightings of any aircraft debris in the Bay of Bengal by the search team.

Only a catastrophic accident in a “no talk/radio zone” or “dead zone” could destroy an aircraft suddenly, an experienced pilot with the Indian defence forces told IANS late Friday.

Those on board comprised six crew members, 15 personnel from the IAF, army, navy and Coast Guard, and eight civilians who were family members of the personnel.

The aircraft, an upgraded AN-32 belonging to 33 Squadron, took off from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai at 8.30 a.m., and was expected to land at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 11.30 a.m., officials said, describing it as a “routine sortie”.

IAF AN-32 take off at 8:30am for Port Blair. Image Source: www.thequint.com
IAF AN-32 take off at 8:30am for Port Blair. Image Source: www.thequint.com

According to a report submitted to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar by Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, according to the recorded transcript of Chennai air traffic radar, last pickup was 151 nautical miles east of Chennai, when the aircraft was observed to have carried out a left turn with rapid loss of height from 23,000 feet.

A massive search and rescue operation involving aircraft, helicopters, ships and a submarine was launched immediately to find the plane that went missing around 300 km off Chennai, and will continue through the night.

The last contact with the aircraft was established roughly around 15-20 minutes after the take-off, sources said.

According to IAF, the AN-32 is a twin engine turboprop, medium tactical transport aircraft of Russian origin. It can carry a maximum load of around 6.7 tonne or a 39 paratroopers.

The aircraft’s maximum cruise speed is 530 kmph.

“Planes are designed to fly even during an emergency. There will be reaction time to the pilots facing an emergency to send out messages for help or turn towards safety,” an Indian defence forces pilot told IANS.

According to the pilot, an AN-32 aircraft will not drop down like a stone or vanish into thin air in the case of normal emergency, as there will be reaction time.

IAF AN-32 maximum speed is 530Kmph. Image Source: Indian Express
IAF AN-32 maximum speed is 530Kmph. Image Source: Indian Express

“But in the case of a catastrophic threat, the pilots will not have the necessary reaction time,” he said.

An aircraft will not always be on the radar, he noted.

“If the distance to be travelled is around 1,500 km for instance and travel path involves flying over sea then there are chances that the aircraft could not be in the radar from the city of departure after say around 300 km. And it would come into the radar on the other side only when it is around 300 km from its destination,” he said.

“So effectively sometimes there will be a dead zone of 700 km. In smaller aircraft, the pilots switch on to the high frequency for being in touch,” the pilot added.

Coming to the probable cause of its vanishing suddenly, he said: “The possibilities of different catastrophic events happening in the sky cannot be ruled out.”

“For example if an aircraft is caught in a strong thunderstorm, then a plane is as good as a paper caught in the storm.

“The storm will throw the plane like a stone,” he said.

According to him, there have been instances when an airplane that was flying at around 35,000 feet altitude dropped down to 5,000 feet but regained control after that.

Ships deployed in Bay of Bengal to search AN-32. Image Source: Twitter
Ships deployed in Bay of Bengal to search AN-32. Image Source: Twitter

The other catastrophic events that can happen to a plane were sudden failure of all the engines; devastasting fire; fuel leakage, jamming of flight controls, loss of flight controls due to fire; power and electrical failure and others.

He said in the best case scenario if the AN-32 had come down gradually then it would have been picked up by some radar or the pilots would have the time to react.

Normally a plane is fuelled taking into account the emergency deviations that may arise – the need to go back to the airport from where it took off or to some other nearby airport in case of an emergency, he added.

Indian Navy Dornier Aircraft. Image Source: Indian Express
Indian Navy Dornier Aircraft. Image Source: Indian Express

The incident comes a year after a Coast Guard Dornier aircraft with three crew members on board for a routine surveillance flight went missing.

The search team found its black box nearly a month later. The skeletal remains and personal belongings of the crew members were recovered from the seabed off the Tamil Nadu coast. (IANS)

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The major Challenge is to make the Youth of the Country Entrepreneurial and not Job Seekers : Venkaiah Naidu

"The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers," Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government's various initiatives.

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Venkaiah Naidu
Venkaiah Naidu. Wikimedia Commons
  • At a time of tepid job growth and continuing income disparities, the major challenge is to make the youth of the country entrepreneurial and not job seekers, Vice President  Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday.

“Disparities continue to remain in India and so there is a need for inclusive growth… there is the need to take care of the suppressed, oppressed and depressed,” Venkaiah Naidu said at the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust’s (BYST) silver jubilee celebrations here with Britain’s Prince Charles as the chief guest.

“The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers,” Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government’s various initiatives to encourage youth enterprises like Startup India, Standup India and the Mudra financing scheme for underprivileged sections.

Modelled on Prince Charles’ Trust for business startups, BYST, founded by Lakshmi Venkatesan, daughter of former President R. Venkatraman, is engaged in building rural entrepreneurship — “grampreneurs” — as also enterprise among under-privileged sections, which includes business mentoring. The current BYST chairman is Bajaj Group chief, Rahul Bajaj.

“Without mentoring, it would be very difficult to set up startups, with all the business, marketing and other vital issues involved in the first two-three years,” Prince Charles said in his address at the International Mentoring Summit organized by BYST to mark its 25 years.

“What amazes me are the sheer number of jobs these young entrepreneurs had created. The aim of such a project should be to create a virtual cycle of creating entrepreneurs who can then invest in the future of business,” Charles said referring to his trust.

BYST was officially launched in 1992 by Prince Charles and expanded its operations to six major regions of India.

Out of these six regions, four — Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad — run the urban programme while two regions — Haryana and Maharashtra — run the rural programme.(IANS)

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7 killed, after Mi-17 V5 an IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal

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IAF chopper Mi-17 v5
IAF chopper Mi-17 V5, at Yelhanka, Air Force Station. Wikimedia

Tawang, October 6:  Seven Indian Air Force personnel were killed after a Mi-17 V5, IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

Tawang district Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Meena said the IAF Chopper Crashed around 6.30 a.m. killing all the seven people on board.

The chopper was on a routine Air Maintenance Mission, Meena quoted a Defence officer as saying.

The crash site is located at some four-to-five hours drive from Tawang. “It is a forested area,” Meena said adding that the bodies are being brought to the helipad near Tawang.

“We are told that there were no civilians and all were defence personnel,” he said.

Earlier in July an Indian Air Force chopper engaged in a flood rescue mission crashed near Papum Pare district in the hill state killing four persons including three IAF crew and one India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel.

The frequently changing weather condition in Arunachal Pradesh makes flying of choppers difficult in the area and there have been several incidents of crashes in the hill state in the past.

The then Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dorjee Khandu, and four others also died in an IAF Chopper Crashed in the hill state in 2011. (IANS)

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India has ‘Plan B’, ready for any challenge from China, says Indian Air Force Chief B S Dhanoa

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ACM Dhanoa
Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa.

New Delhi, Oct 5: Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on Thursday said India is prepared to counter any threat from China and was also ready to face a two-front war.

Addressing the annual press conference of the IAF ahead of Air Force Day, the Indian Air Force Chief said they have a ‘Plan B’ to cater for the shortage of strength if there is a situation of war on two fronts.

“We need a strength of 42 squadrons to carry out full spectrum operations, but it doesn’t mean we can’t fight a two-front scenario. There is a Plan B,” he said when asked about being prepared for a two-front war.

He also said the possibility of a two-front war in the current geopolitical scenario is low.

He said “our capability is adequate” to counter any threat from the Eastern side — China.

The Indian Air Force Chief also said more than assets, the question was what China can and cannot do operating from Tibet against India.

He also said that Chinese troops are still stationed in the Chumbi valley, of which Doklam is a part, and hoped that they return soon.

Dhanoa said: “We are not in physical face-off but in Chumbi valley their troops are still deployed.”

“Hope they will withdraw in future after their exercises are over,” the IAF chief said.

He also said that there was no face-off in the air during the over 70 days long standoff and there were no air violations.

“I take this opportunity to assure the nation of our sacred resolve in defending the sovereignty of our skies,” he added.(IANS)