It was the crucial role played by a satellite imaging company based in Mysuru which helped track down the location of the wreckage of the Indian Air Force’s ill-fated AN-32 military transport aircraft which mysteriously went missing on June 3 after taking off from Jorhat in Assam.
The Mysuru-based company, Acqua Geo Consultancy, contacted the Indian Air Force officials on June 8 after the IAF had gone public to announce prize money of Rs 5 lakh for those who could give accurate information on the missing flight which carried 13 IAF personnel. A team of professionals from the Aqua Geo Consultancy took up the challenge and sent their first report to the IAF which involved zeroing in on the area of 200 sq km from 2,050 sq km. After seeing the report, the IAF officials contacted the firm and tried to get information on how the mapping was done.
The Indian Air Force helped with further information about the missing flight which helped the team zero in on the exact location — Lipo in Arunachal Pradesh. The location that the consultancy firm gave was just 17 km from where the wreckage was found, by far more accurate than to what others pointed.
“It was on the fifth day that the IAF went public seeking clues. We mapped the route of the missing flight and various factors were included to logically guess the possible flight path or the location of the craft,” explained R M Ananya Vasudev, Director, Geology (field operations), Acqua Geo Consultancy.
‘Our report was closest among other tips’
“What we knew was the location of the flight going missing and the timing of the incident. We studied different parameters of wind such as velocity, speed, direction and visibility. Depending on these factors, we mapped the path further and narrowed down the search place,” said Ananya Vasudev of Acqua Geo Consultancy.
Jaison Jakob, Director (planning and management), Acqua Geo Consultancy, who mapped the possible flight path, said the satellite-based remote sensing is the need of the hour for many sectors in India. “Especially for the defence sector it is important to have modern equipment which come handy in cases of emergencies. There is a need to upgrade technologies in search and rescue ops. It’s time the military had geologists, too,” he said.
The Indian Air Force received 400-plus tips over its missing aircraft. But the coordinates and possible location of wreckage given by the Mysuru firm stood on top. AN-32 is the largest fleet of military transport aircraft of the IAF and is considered as its backbone.
“The IAF officials informed us that our report was the closest among the tips received from the general public. We did the work voluntarily and we did not do it for any monetary benefits. From day one of the flight going missing, we were following the news and it prompted us to use our resources and see if we could help the IAF,” Ananya Vasudev said.