Navy aircraft crashes off Goa coast

Navy aircraft crashes off Goa coast

Navy aircraft crashes off Goa coast

A Dornier surveillance aircraft of the Indian Navy crashed into the Arabian Sea on Tuesday night with three persons on board.

The captain of the aircraft has been found, but two Lieutenant-rank officers, including a woman, are still missing.

The aircraft from the 310 Cobra Squadron lost all radio contact at 10:08 pm on Tuesday.
An hour later, the fishing boat Niharika that set sail from one of the hamlets off the Karwar coasts spotted Commodore Nikhil Kuldip Joshi, the captain of the ill-fated plane, who was floating in the sea in an unconscious state.

The fishermen informed maritime authorities, who then took Joshi to naval hospital INS Patanjani at Karwar.

Though Joshi suffered serious injuries in the accident, he is now stable.  He was visited by Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan in hospital. The Navy chief also met the families of the two missing officers and flew to Goa to take stock of the situation.

With no sign of the other two other officers on-board, a massive search operation involving 12 ships, submarines and four types of aircraft from the Indian Coast Guard and Navy has been launched.

Dornier and P8I surveillance aircraft, Kamov and Dhruv helicopters, besides hydrographic vessel INS Jamuna—fitted with sophisticated instrumentation—are searching for the two missing officers.

The vessels are searching 20,000 sq km area of open sea. So far, no debris has been found but two life jackets were recovered, sources said.

The Maritime Rescue Control Centre in Mumbai has been receiving intermittent pings from one of the personnel-locating beacons since Tuesday night. The beacons and life jackets, however, are designed to get activated automatically when they come in contact with saline water. The last known position of the aircraft was 20 nautical miles south-southwest of Goa. There was no Mayday distress call, but authorities launched a search and rescue operation the moment radio contact was lost.

The aircraft took off on a training sortie from the INS Hansa naval base in Goa at 6:30 PM, with Joshi as the pilot.

He has 4,000 hours of flying experience and is also the commanding officer of the squadron. While the aircraft has an endurance of 4.5 hours, it carries enough fuel to fly to Mumbai or Mangalore. A board of inquiry has been ordered to find out the cause of the accident.

This is the first Dornier crash in the Indian Navy, which inducted these workhorse reconnaissance aircraft in the early 1990s. The Navy currently operates 36 Dorniers for surveillance along with other aircraft.

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