More than a month after the Coast Guard Dornier went missing, search operations succeeded on Friday with the recovery of the flight data recorder of the aircraft.
After the breakthrough in the search was achieved by submarine INS Sindhudhwaj, the remotely operated vehicle (ROV), owned by Reliance Industries, arrived at the coast near the Pichavaram mangroves from Kakinada.
“It was able to locate and recover the flight data recorder, cockpit voice recorder and one line replacement unit from a depth of about 950 metres in a unique and first-ever salvage operation at such depth around 4 pm on Friday. The 37.6 MHZ signal from the flight data recorder was picked up by the ROV. This also proves that the sonar locating beacon did continue to emit signals even after 30 days,” said S P Sharma, Coast Guard commander, adding that the FDR as well as the cockpit voice recorder could provide vital information on the cause of the incident.
The spot where the aircraft crashed had a shallow continental shelf to the west and a steep continental slope towards the east, which was hampering the search operations. The bottom slope was inclined beyond 80.2 degree east. The sedimentation at the bottom was soft sand, and silty to the east.
While it was a brief moment of jubilation for the rescue team that has, by now, completed 693 hours of surface search and a further 196 hours over air, the significance of the development is only sinking in for the families of the crew members who had been nursing hopes of seeing them alive.
Padma, mother of co-pilot deputy commandant Subash Suresh, said she was in a state of shock after learning about the news. “I am aware about the flight data recorder having been recovered. You can understand our plight,” she said. However, Subash’s uncle told Express on Friday night that Padma was the strongest in the family and continued to believe that her son would return. “She insists that the crew were experienced hands, and that they would come back alive,” said the relative.
A close relative of deputy commandant navigator Manoj Kumar Soni said the family learned that the developments. “The family is now in Bhopal. They are in a state of shock and not in a position to speak,” said the relative.