Chennai, July 10 (IANS) A Coast Guard Dornier aircraft, missing for over a month now, has been found on the sea bed off the Tamil Nadu coast and its flight data recorder recovered, an official said on Friday. There is no information about its three crew members though family members were still hopeful.
“The Dornier aircraft has been found in the sea at a depth of 900 metres off Chidambaram. There is no information about the crew members,” Coast Guard Commander East Region, Inspector General Satya Prakash Sharma told IANS.
The Dornier aircraft with pilot, Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar, co-pilot, Deputy Commandant Subash Suresh and navigator/observer M.K. Soni went missing on the night of June 8 while returning to the base after a regular surveillance sortie along the Tamil Nadu coast and Palk Bay.
The announcement sparked some hope among the family of the missing crew members. Padma Suresh, mother of co-pilot Subhash Suresh, told IANS that they had heard that the black box or data recorder of the missing flight had been recovered but there was no information about the crew.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed… we are praying,” she said in a shaky voice.
According to a Coast Guard release, Indian navy submarine Sindhudhavaj, deployed in the search mission, had picked up transmissions at a depth of 996 meters on July 6, thus enabling Reliance Industries’ multifunctional support vessel Olympic Canyon, which also pressed into the operation, to localize the search.
The Olympic Canyon’s integrated remotely operated vehicle was able to locate and recover the missing aircraft’s flight data recorder (FDR) and one line replacement unit from a depth of 950 metres in “a unique and first ever salvage at such depths”, it said.
The FDR could provide vital inputs towards establishing the cause of the incident, said the Coast Guard, terming it a major accomplishment to the search operation which was launched soon after the Dornier went missing and has included 693 hours of surface effort and 196 hours of air effort.