The disappearance of an Indian Air Force's AN-32 aircraft on Monday brought back agonising memories of another plane of the transport fleet going missing over the Bay of Bengal in 2016. The Russian-origin plane with 29 people on board, including six crew members, had gone missing in June, three years ago, while flying from Chennai to Port Blair.
In 2009, the IAF had lost another AN-32 aircraft which crashed near a village in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, killing all the 13 defence personnel in the mishap.
Antonov AN-32 is a twin-engined military transport aircraft that can fly for up to four hours without refuelling.
The AN-32 aircraft that went missing in June 2016 had taken off at 8:30 am from Tambaram in Chennai and the last time it was contacted was 16 minutes later, defence sources had then said.
A few months after the incident, a Court of Inquiry had concluded that those on board the missing aircraft of the IAF were to be "presumed dead".
Defence Ministry spokesperson, Col Aman Anand, when contacted, said Monday that there was no update on the case of the aircraft that went missing in 2016.
"The Court of Inquiry, upon very careful scrutiny of the circumstantial evidence available and in light of extensive search and rescue operations carried out, has concluded that it is unlikely that the missing personnel on board the ill-fated aircraft would have survived the accident.
"It is with a feeling of profound sadness that the Court of Inquiry has recommended that your son/daughter be presumed to have been fatally injured," the letter from IAF, dated August 24, 2016, to the families of those in the aircraft, had read.
The letter had come annexed with a certificate of presumption of death.
The plane did not have an underwater locator system, which had made the search difficult.
"No fewer than 201 search and rescue sorties, using all suitable aircraft at our disposal were undertaken. Approximately 2,17,800 square nautical miles (Sq Nm) have been covered multiple times by these aircraft," the letter had stated.
An AN-32 transport aircraft of the IAF with 13 people on board went missing Monday afternoon around 33 minutes after taking off from Jorhat in Assam for Arunachal's Menchuka near the border with China, officials said.
The IAF said the aircraft took off from Jorhat 12.27 pm for the Menchuka advance landing ground in Shi-Yomi district in Arunachal Pradesh, and its last contact with the ground control was at 1 pm.
The IAF has deployed C-130J and AN-32 aircraft besides two Mi-17 choppers while the Indian Army has pressed into service advance light helicopters to locate the missing Antonov AN-32 aircraft.