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Indian Air Force's AN-32 Missing: What May Have Gone Wrong

File photo of an AN 32 (Picture courtesy: indian air force website)

File photo of an AN 32 (Picture courtesy: indian air force website)

Experts told CNN-News18 that there were three possibilities, two of them not very likely.

New Delhi: What went wrong with Indian Air Force's AN-32 on Friday that it suddenly dropped off the sky over the Bay of Bengal on its way to Port Blair from Chennai.

Sources said the plane was flying at a height of 23,000 feet - forty minutes after it took off from the Tamabaram airport at 8.30 am - when it took a sharp left turn and suddenly lost altitude. The last blip on the radar was at 9:12 am.

Experts told CNN-News18 that there were three possibilities, two of them not very likely.

Engine Failure: The AN-32 is a robust, twin engine aircraft, which can fly back to base if an engine fails. Even if both engines fail, it can glide and land on water giving the pilot enough time to send a distress call. So the possibility of an engine failure, according to experts, is unlikely.

Bad Weather: This too is unlikely as the weather around the area when the plane took off was not really bad. And even if the pilots suddenly ran into rough weather on their way, they coukd have send out a Mayday Call.

Techinical Failure: The most likely case, feel experts, is technical failure like the locking of control surface - rudder, ailerons, elevator- which would send the aircraft into an uncontrollable tailspin. Such a situation Would not allow any time for the pilot to send a distress call.

And there is another reason this could be the case - the missing AN-32 plane had reported at least three technical snags in the recent past.

On July 2, the plane reported sluggish throttle movement. On July 7, there was a hydraulic leak from the port wing. And on July 14, a pressure leak was reported from the port door. These problems were soon taken care of.

The missing plane had 29 people on board - 11 IAF personnel, one Navy, one Army and a coast guard member along with eight civilians and crew.

More than 12 Navy and coast guard ships are now searching for the aircraft in the Bay of Bengal. A submarine has also been diverted to search for undersea transmissions from the plane's beacon.
first published:July 23, 2016, 00:17 IST