AN-32 aircraft search op by helicopters called off due to bad light: Air Force

They said the thick vegetation and difficult terrain of the area was making the rescue operation a herculean task.

Published: 07th June 2019 01:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th June 2019 01:25 AM   |  A+A-

File Image of An-32 transport aircraft for Representational Purposes. (AFP)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The search and rescue operation carried out by helicopters to trace the missing AN-32 aircraft has been called off due to low light, but the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft will continue with the mission during night, the Air Force said Thursday.

The Russian-made aircraft took off from Jorhat on Monday at 12.27 pm for the Mechuka advance landing ground.

Its last contact with the ground control was at 1 pm.

A total of eight aircrew and five passengers were on board the aircraft.

ALSO READ | Father of IAF officer aboard missing AN-32 in 2016 shares anguish

All the three armed forces have deployed their assets to trace the aircraft.

However, the search and rescue (SAR) operation has met with little success so far.

According to sources, the rescuers have not received any signal from the emergency locator beacon in the missing plane, adding there is a possibility that the device may not have been functional.

They said the thick vegetation and difficult terrain of the area was making the rescue operation a herculean task.

"SAR operation by helicopters is called off due to low light. It will resume on Friday. C130Js will continue the mission in night. Nothing has been sighted so far," an IAF official said.

READ HERE | AN-32 pilot's wife was on ATC duty in Jorhat when the aircraft went off the radar

Search efforts were ramped up Thursday with the Air Force deploying four Mi-17 helicopters, three Advanced Light Helicopters, of which two belong to the Army, two Sukhoi-30 aircraft, one C-130 transporter aircraft and one Army's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

Additionally, two Cheetah helicopters will join the search operations on Friday, the IAF said.

The Indian Navy's P-8I aircraft was deployed on Tuesday as it has electro-optical and infra-red sensors which could be helpful in the search operation.

IAF officials said ISRO's Cartosat and RISAT satellites are taking images of the area around Mechuka to help the rescuers find the plane.

ALSO READ | Missing AN-32 brings back disturbing memories of another IAF aircraft that went missing in 2016

"#IAF Missing AN-32 search continues. The area of search has been expanded & more assets including smaller & more manoeuvrable helicopters like cheetah have been included in the rescue mission so as to approach areas inaccessible by bigger helicopters or individuals on foot," the Air Force tweeted.

"Search by IAF & #IndianArmy helicopters was adversely affected by localised weather in the valleys. All leads from airborne sensors including by #IndianNavy being closely assessed & followed-up with search by aircraft & ground teams. The search will continue through the night," it said.

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