An Indian Air Force (IAF) An-32 transport aircraft with 29 people onboard has gone missing while flying from Chennai to Port Blair. An-32 or the Antonov-32 is light transport multipurpose aircraft. The twin engine turboprop aircraft is of Russian origin. It can take a crew of five people and has the capacity to carry 39 paratroopers or a maximum load of 6.7 tonnes, says the IAF. The plane has a maximum cruise speed of 530 km per hour. IAF has over 100 An-32 aircraft in operation currently.
According to Antonov, the group behind the design of this aircraft, the An-32 is fitted with modern cargo handling devices; it has a cargo door at the rear part of the fuselage with a ramp. The ramp can be shifted under the fuselage for quick loading and unloading. The aircraft flight navigation system and radio communication equipment enables performance of flights under adverse weather conditions, during the day and night, for local and international air routes, claims Antonov. The aircraft is said to weigh nearly 16,800 kg, with a maximum take-off weight of 27,000 kg.
At present, over 240 N-32 aircraft are being operated in countries with adverse climate conditions, including India, CIS, Sri Lanka, Columbia, Bangladesh, Peru, Mexico, Afghanistan, African countries. The AN-32 aircraft took off today at 0830 hours from Tambaram in Chennai and the last contact with it was made 16 minutes later. The aircraft can fly for up to four hours without refuelling.
According to the Indian Navy, a full scale search and rescue operation has been launched to search the aircraft in Bay of Bengal. One P8I and a Dornier have been launched. Four ships Karmukh, Gharial, Jyoti & Kuthar have been diverted to join in Search and Rescue (SAR) operation. More assets are being dispatched, the Navy said.