Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar met with the family of Flight Lieutenant Kunal Barpatte, who was the navigator on board the AN-32 aircraft which went missing on July 22 off Chennai, and said he was personally monitoring the situation.
"I am shocked. This was one of the Indian Air Force's safest, sturdiest and oldest aircraft. How can it go down? I am personally monitoring the situation," he told Kunal's father Rajendra Barpatte.
Rajendra requested the minister to replace such planes with better ones and ensure safety of IAF personnel.
Parrikar asked the IAF officials who were present during the meeting, to keep the families of the crew members informed about the search operation.
He said he has appointed an official each for the family of every crew member as a contact person for information.
Parrikar later said he felt it was his responsibility to meet the family.
Earlier in the day, the defence minister told reporters here that the government was making all possible efforts to trace the aircraft and he was monitoring the situation personally.
"We are taking the help of the US to check if their satellites captured any signal from missing AN-32 plane," he said, adding that due to cloudy sky, the search operation was facing hurdles.
Kunals uncle Dinesh Patil said when he learnt that Parrikar was to visit Pune, he tweeted to the defence minister and had sought a meeting.
Kunals parents had earlier complained they did not receive any information from IAF immediately after the news of aircraft going missing came. A tweet sent by one of the relatives to Parrikar led to the officials contacting the family some 30 hours after the news broke, the family said.