Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday told parliament that India has sought help from US to check if their satellites captured any signals from the missing AN-32 aircraft, while noting there was very little possibility that sabotage played any role.
Giving clarifications on the missing aircraft in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said he was “disturbed” at the aircraft’s sudden disappearance, and even experts are “puzzled”.
“I am also disturbed at such a sudden disappearance. I spoke with many air chiefs, other senior air force personnel, they also are puzzled by the sudden disappearance,” he said.
Assuring the house that the aircraft had “adequate lifetime”, Mr Parrikar also said that maximum efforts are being made to reduce accidents and also that any aircraft not fit for flying was not flown.
He said that this aircraft “was almost at the end of the range of passive radar. In effect in another 10 minute it would have crossed the limit of the passive radar and there is an area around 150-200 nautical miles where there is no radar coverage either from Chennai or Port Blair.”
He also said that the aircraft had undergone its first overhaul, and had already flown for 179 hours after that. The pilot had flown for over 500 hours on the route.
“So it is not that something new was happened,” he said.
“Only thing which was recorded was because of a cumulonimbus cloud which normally no aviator will like to enter into because it is a very charged and heavy cloud… they (pilots) said we are deviating to right,” Mr Parrikar said, adding that this happened 7-8 minutes before the plane went off radar.