CHENNAI: After the mysterious disappearance of the AN 32 aircraft that was on its way from Chennai to Port Blair last year, the Indian Air Force has come up with measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, said on Friday.
“We have introduced additional seats in the charter (flights) to Car Nicobar so that we are carrying mainly load (only) in AN 32 and the passengers are carried by charter,” he said while addressing the media at the IAF Station Tambaram. Courier flights are going to be introduced for personnel. Termed a ‘workhorse’ by Dhanoa for ferrying personnel, the AN 32 was not expected to be used by IAF based on earlier reports.
Dhanoa revealed that despite a coordinated search that also involved the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, wreckage of the Russian-made aircraft, that went missing on July 22, 2016, could not be found. All 29 persons on board the ill-fated aircraft have been presumed dead.
“Nothing has been found about the AN 32 aircraft,” Dhanoa reiterated. He described how an extensive search had been undertaken with Naval and Coast Guard ships, besides submarines and specialised vessels, but it did not succeed in finding the missing aircraft.
He recalled that satellite images had also been used.
He explained that one of the reasons why the aircraft could not be found was probably because unlike modern aircraft that come with underwater locators, AN 32 had no such facility. Further, he blamed the ‘limited visibility’ in the waters of the Bay of Bengal as another challenge to the search operation.
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command, Air Marshal S R K Nair, highlighted that a Court of Inquiry (CoI) had probed deep to find out the reason why the incident occurred.
“We could not get any evidence because the aircraft could never be found,” Nair said. “The aircraft probably went down due to weather conditions leading to icing and icing leading to jamming the controls (after which) the aircraft went into an uncontrolled spiral and went into the sea. I emphasise, there is no evidence. This is conjecture.”