An Antonov AN-32 Indian Air Force transport aircraft has gone missing from over the Bay of Bengal on Friday morning. The transport aircraft which was last contacted on the radar by Chennai Air Traffic Control officials at 8:12 am, has 29 people on board. The plane had six crew members and was making its way back to the Port Blair airbase from Tambaram airport, Chennai.
The expected time of arrival for the aircraft at Port Blair was 11:30 am and the Air Force has claimed that they were in touch with the aircraft till 9:30 am. Rescue operations are currently underway to locate the aircraft with a joint search operation between the navy and the IAF being carried out. Two military planes and four Navy warships have been dispatched to assist rescue efforts in Bay of Bengal. According to the latest updates , one P-8I and a Dornier aircraft along with Karmukh, Gharual, Jyoti and Kuthar, the four navy ships are diverted to join in the search and rescue at full speed.
Bad weather and turbulence over the Bay of Bengal can be blamed for the plane going off-radar. IAF Captain DK Sharma has said: “We termed it as overdue, and have launched full force (search and rescue operation). We will get results soon.”
It is a courier flight which is used by the military for carrying tactical and sensitive information and is a twin-engined turboprop aircraft. The An-32 has excellent take-off characteristics in hot and high conditions, (up to + 55 °C (131 °F; 328 K) and 4,500 m (14,800 ft) elevation suitable for use as a medium tactical military transport roles as well as commercial roles. Operating as a cargo transport over the short and medium range air routes, the An-32 is suitable for air-dropping cargo, passenger carrying, medevac, firefighting, skydiving or paratrooping roles.