Monday, August 01, 2016

Missing Air Force AN-32 Plane Had Basic Search Equipment Missing

New Delhi:  The Indian Air Force's AN-32 transport aircraft which went missing off the coast of Chennai on July 22 with 29 people on board is not fitted with an underwater locator beacon, making the search operation for its wreckage extremely difficult, NDTV has learned. No debris from the aircraft has been spotted on the surface of the Bay of Bengal so far.
The absence of this beacon raises serious questions like why the Indian Air Force was operating an aircraft over maritime areas without installing systems which would have allowed wreckage to have been located underwater in the event of such a crash.
NDTV has learned that the US made Artex C-406-1 and the French made Kannad 406AS emit a distress signal once they impact land or water with a force of 2.3 G or 4.5 feet per second.
These signals are picked up by the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system which covers the entire globe. In the case of the Artex unit, which is attached to the fuselage of the aircraft, transmissions are made on a ''standard swept tone'' on 121.5 and 243.0 MHz frequencies.  A second transmitter sends out an encoded digital message every 50 seconds on the 406 MHz frequency.
The secondary Kannad 406 AS unit is a portable unit kept in the cockpit of the aircraft. In the event of a crash, the unit has to be manually switched on for a signal to be transmitted unless the system's Water Switch Sensor is activated in which case, the unit will send out distress signals once it comes in contact with water. Like in the case of the Artex ELT, the Kannad ELT transmits a variety of frequencies and can provide a fairly precise location fix for satellites within one nautical mile of its actual location.

However, what is now clear is that the batteries of both the Artex and Kannad unit would have gone dead within 70 hours of the crash, perhaps a moot point since neither unit can transmit once fully submerged underwater.
01/08/16 Vishnu Som/NDTV
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