Wednesday June 20, 2018
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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
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  • 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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Waves of black as Modi visits Chennai

Tamil Nadu has been in turmoil since the six-week period for setting up the Board expired, with opposition parties and a host of fringe Tamil groups attacking the Centre

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi (FILE PHOTO)

Black flags and balloons and activists in black shirts and trousers greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he paid a whirlwind visit to Chennai with helicopter as the chosen mode of transport in the wake of statewide agitation demanding constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB).

Protests were also held with black flags and placards throughout Tamil Nadu in cities like Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Coimbatore and Tuticorin against the Prime Minister’s brief visit to the state and the Centre’s failure to constitute the CMB despite a Supreme Court order. Black flags were hoisted on homes and business establishments across the state.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Narendra Modi welcomed with black flags in chennai.

In a bid to avoid protesters, Modi, who arrived here by a special aircraft in the morning, chose a helicopter to reach Tiruvidanthai, in neighbouring Kanchipuram district where he opened the 10th DefExpo organised by the Defence Ministry. From there he took another chopper to come to IIT Madras, in the heart of the city. From there, he took a one-kilometre ride by car to the neighbouring Adyar Cancer Institute for an event.

The Prime Minister walked a few steps from the helicopter to the car that ferried him to the Cancer Institute. As he did so, he encountered some 30 students from IIT Madras who stood silently but held posters demanding a Cauvery Management Board as ordered by the Supreme Court — an issue which has whipped up emotions in Tamil Nadu. Modi then left by helicopter to the airport before returning to Delhi.

Also Read: Modi is anti-Dalit, will defeat BJP in 2019: Rahul Gandhi

#Go back Modi trended on top as netizens took to the cyberspace to register their protest against the Central government’s failure to set up the CMB as directed by the Supreme Court to ensure proper sharing of Cauvery waters between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and other states.

DMK leader M.K. Stalin, who was on a padayatra of the Cauvery delta areas, wore black shirt and trousers as he protested along with state Congress President Thirunavukkarasar and CPI-M state unit chief Mutharasan. “The Prime Minister may be flying in the air today but he has to come down when the elections come,” he said taking a dig at Modi.

A black flag was hoisted at DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s residence. The ailing leader wore a black shirt. DMK MP Tiruchi Siva and leaders of DMK allies wore black dress and marched on the road near the Chennai airport.

In the morning outside the Chennai airport, activists of the Federation for protection of Tamil Art and Culture, led by noted film director Bharatiraja and other film personalities like Amir, Gautaman and Vetrimaran protested against Modi’s visit. They were arrested.

will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons
Cauvery River Dispute is going on for a while now. Wikimedia Commons

While MDMK chief Vaiko held a black flag protest in Velachery, Naam Thamizhar Katch convenor Seeman, a film director, was arrested elsewhere. Vaiko called Modi a “coward” for choosing to fly. Political leaders Velmurugan and P. Nedumaran were arrested from Alandur metro station in Chennai for holding black flag protests.

Tamil Nadu has been in turmoil since the six-week period for setting up the Board expired, with opposition parties and a host of fringe Tamil groups attacking the Centre, saying the BJP was interested only in winning the Assembly elections in Karnataka. Even the hugely-popular IPL cricket matches have been shifted out of Chennai to Pune in view of the disturbances on Tuesday. IANS