Guwahati: Search operations have resumed for the Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft AN-32 which went missing on Monday afternoon about 35 minutes after take-off from Jorhat in Assam. The ill-fated plane with 13 on board was headed to Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi Yomi district.
However, this is not the first time that an AN-32 has gone missing. The aircraft, used by several countries worldwide, has a long history of going off the radar, only to be found in wreckage later.
The Aviation Safety Network (ASN) lists around 80 instances of such accidents for the AN-32 aircraft, of which 17 belonged to the Indian Air Force (IAF). The ASN is a website of the US-based Flight Safety Foundation that keeps track of aviation accidents, incidents, and hijackings. Their database contains details of over 20,300 reports.
The details of several such incidents are not listed on the website. Here is a list of the known ones:
1986: An IAF AN-32 crashed on March 22 during a resupply flight from Pathankot Air Base to Jammu. It had three persons on board.
Another AN-32 crashed on March 25; the aircraft disappeared over the Arabian Sea. It was a delivery flight from the Soviet Union with seven people on board. No trace was ever found.
1988: The Russian power-horse crashed on February 8. The website said it was “reportedly damged beyond repair”. Though the details are unknown, the location listed by the website is Tuting, Arunachal Pradesh.
1990: IAF AN-32 plane crashed in Kerala’s Ponmudi Mountain range on July 15. This time the transport plane crashed was en route from Tambaram Air Force Station, Tamil Nadu to Thiruvananthapuram. It had five persons on board.
1992: A formation of nine AN-32 planes departed Chandigarh on the night of April 1. The third aircraft in the formation mistook the first aircraft to be the second. In order to cover up the distance, the pilot tried to fly into what he thought was his position. Since his plane was right above the second aircraft, a collision occurred. One of the two broke up and crashed. The other, losing control, veered away from Bahri village and crash-landed into a field nearby. The crash took place near Boothgarh, Ludhiana, Punjab.
1999: On March 7, an AN-32 was on approach to New Delhi runway 10, when it crashed into a concrete water tank. The flight had four crew members and 14 passengers on board.
2000: An aircraft crashed in Vijaynagar in February.
2002: ASN lists an accident in November saying “the wreckage of an AN-32 transport plane of the Indian Air Force, K2746, was noted at Tezpur Air Base (TEZ). It’s unclear what happened”.
2009: On June 9, an IAF AN-32 crashed in Arunachal Pradesh killing all 13 people on board. The incident is strikingly similar to the one that occurred on Monday.
2011: “An Indian Air Force AN-32 transport plane suffered an accident at Jorhat-Rowriah Airport. A photograph of the accident shows a collapsed left hand main gear, bent no. 1 propeller tips and damage to the nose cone and forward fuselage,” said ASN. The incident occurred on December 15 and reported no fatalities.
2014: On September 20, An Antonov 32 transport plane was damaged beyond repair in a landing accident at Chandigarh Airport. No casualty was reported in the incident.
2016: An IAF AN-32 travelling from Chennai to Port Blair went missing on July 22 with 29 people on board. After searching the plane for a few days, the search was called off, declaring all the people presumably dead.