CHENNAI: Over a month after the Coast Guard’s Dornier aircraft went missing, setting in motion an unrelenting and uninterrupted search operation involving ships, submarines, advanced remotely operated vessels, planes and satellites, the efforts finally succeeded on Friday with the recovery of the flight data recorder (FDR), cockpit voice recorder and the wheel of the aircraft from about a kilometer under sea off the Pichavaram coast in Cuddalore district.
However, there was still no information on the fate of the three crew members who were on board the aircraft when it vanished from the radar on June 8. The FDR, the cockpit voice recorder as well as the wheel were lying at a depth of about 950 metres in the sea, at a spot about 37 km off the coast of the Pichavaram mangroves, said SP Sharma, Coast Guard commander.
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It was a moment of grief and relief for the force and its top brass, who had been insisting that ‘Operation Talaash’ was moving in the right direction, after consultation with Indian Oceanography scientists as well as international agencies in Japan, Australia, Canada and the US.
The breakthrough was achieved by INS Sindhudhwaj, which picked up a barrage of transmissions from the sonar locating beacon (SLB) at a depth of 966 meters on Monday. That was the 28th day, just two days prior to the SLB’s minimum time-span warranty. Soon after, the remotely operated vehicle, owned by Reliance Industries, arrived from Kakinada to resume search operations based on the lead.