Closure at Sea: Solving the Mystery of the An-32 Transport Aircraft’s Disappearance


In July 2016, the Indian Air Force’s An-32 transport aircraft, flight number K-2743, embarked on a routine mission from the Tambaran air base in Chennai with 29 personnel on board, including eight civilians. The destination: Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. However, what was anticipated to be a routine operation turned into a lingering mystery as the aircraft vanished over the Bay of Bengal.

For years, the families of the 29 individuals onboard lived in uncertainty, waiting for answers surrounding the fate of their loved ones. The search for the missing aircraft involved relentless efforts, and finally, a breakthrough came with the deployment of an Autonomous Utility Vehicle (AUV) developed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology.

The AUV, equipped with advanced technology, delved into the depths of the Bay of Bengal, reaching an impressive depth of 3,400 meters. Using a combination of multi-beam SONAR, synthetic aperture SONAR, and high-resolution photography, the exploration aimed to locate the An-32 at its last known position.

The exhaustive search yielded results when debris from a crashed aircraft was identified on the sea bed, approximately 310 km off the Chennai coast. The photographs captured during the mission were meticulously analyzed and unmistakably matched the characteristics of the An-32 aircraft. This discovery provided a sense of closure to the families who had been grappling with uncertainty for years.

About the Mystery of the An-32 Transport Aircraft’s Disappearance:

The National Institute of Ocean Technology, operating under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, affirmed that no other aircraft had crashed in the specified location or its vicinity, solidifying the conclusion that the identified debris belonged to the ill-fated An-32. While the findings offer closure, the elusive question of why the aircraft crashed remains unanswered.

The mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the An-32 persist, leaving room for speculation and raising concerns about aviation safety. The conclusion of the deep-sea search operation marks the end of a painful chapter for the families involved, yet it also emphasizes the importance of continued efforts to enhance aviation safety measures and investigate the root causes of such incidents.

As the wreckage of the An-32 lays silent on the sea bed, the search operation’s success underscores the vital role that technological advancements and collaborative efforts play in resolving aviation mysteries, providing closure to grieving families, and contributing to the ongoing pursuit of safer skies.