3, March, 2024
HomeIndiaUnraveling the Mystery: Deep-Sea Discovery Offers Closure to Families of Missing An-32 Aircraft Personnel

Unraveling the Mystery: Deep-Sea Discovery Offers Closure to Families of Missing An-32 Aircraft Personnel

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In 2016, an Indian Air Force An-32 transport aircraft vanished during an operational mission, leaving 29 personnel onboard. The mystery surrounding the disappearance lingered until recently when debris from the crashed aircraft was discovered off the Chennai coast, potentially solving the enigma.

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The breakthrough came as an Autonomous Utility Vehicle (AUV), developed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology, was deployed for deep-sea exploration to trace the missing aircraft’s last known location in the Bay of Bengal.

Employing advanced technologies such as multi-beam SONAR, synthetic aperture SONAR, and high-resolution photography at a depth of 3,400 meters, the search revealed significant findings.

Photographs of the debris, meticulously analyzed, aligned with the characteristics of the An-32 aircraft. No other wreckage was identified in the vicinity, substantiating the results of the deep-sea search.

The National Institute of Ocean Technology, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, believes that the recovered debris likely belongs to the ill-fated An-32 aircraft. While the discovery brings closure to the families of the personnel onboard, the circumstances leading to the crash remain undisclosed.

On July 22, 2016, the An-32 aircraft, with flight number K-2743, took off from the Tambaran air base in Chennai, destined for Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Carrying 29 personnel, including eight civilians, the aircraft made its last communication 16 minutes after take-off, assuring that “Everything is normal.” Subsequently, the aircraft rapidly descended from 23,000 feet, disappearing from radar screens at approximately 9:12 am, 280 km off the Chennai coast.

The Indian Air Force and Navy launched an extensive search operation involving Navy’s Dornier aircraft and 11 ships. This operation marked India’s largest search effort for a missing aircraft, even as preliminary investigations revealed the absence of essential equipment that could aid in locating the aircraft in the event of a crash at sea.

Nearly eight years after the tragic incident, the discovery of debris 310 km from the coast in the same region offers some resolution. The underwater locator beacon, designed to emit signals after a crash, was notably absent on the ill-fated An-32.

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As the families find closure, questions surrounding the crash’s cause endure, underscoring the importance of robust safety measures in air operations.

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