UPDATE02: Nullifies Update01. Director of IGRUA, Air Marshal (retd) VK Verma confirms that the aircraft / wreckage is not found, and that Search and Rescue are still underway. Although the situation hints at an undesirable outcome, we apologize for bringing out the previous update.
UPDATE01: Reportedly VT-FGE’s has crashed, taking the life of the student pilot.
A 4 year old Diamond DA 40 CS (similar to above photo) bearing registration VT-FGE went missing on a training flight today (24th December 2013). The aircraft departed Gondia at 07:09UTC (12:29 IST) for a navigation cross country to Panchmarhi and back. The aircraft was expected to return to Gondia at 09:16UTC (14:46 IST).
The last known position was 63NM on Radial 359 from Nagpur Radar, at 0745UTC (1315IST). This places the last known position of the aircraft on the route from Gondia to Panchmarhi, with no apparent deviation. This last know position is overhead the village of Raja Khoh, Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, and 80NM from Gondia.
The distance between Gondia and Panchmarhi is 120NM, and was the first long navigation cross country flown by the IGRUA cadet (name withheld upon request). The cadet has about 90 hours total time. The cadet was the only occupant, on board.
Panchmari, a hill station, which is at an elevation of 3,600ft, is known to be notorious for its terrain, turbulence and poor visibility. Panchmari has a mud, unmarked runway oriented 04-22.
Search and rescue operations have been commenced, but the aircraft hasn’t been located. No ELT signal has been received, pointing either to a soft and safe landing of the aircraft in an open field, or the malfunction of an ELT in a crash. We sincerely hope the former is true. No call has been received from the cadet’s mobile phone, which was with him. No distress calls were heard.
The endurance of the aircraft is 04:00hrs, and at the time of writing this piece, the aircraft departed 10:15hrs ago.