Iran Plane Crash Most Likely A ‘Shootdown Event’, Aviation Experts Say - The Most Popular Lists


Iran Plane Crash Most Likely A ‘Shootdown Event’, Aviation Experts Say

Doubts have been cast over Iranian assertions that a deadly Ukrainian plane crash near Tehran was the result of technical failures, with independent aviation operations experts saying a “shootdown” was the most likely explanation.

READ: All 170 aboard crashed Ukrainian jet dead: Iran

Iranian officials said technical issues were behind the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) crash, which happened shortly after take-off from Imam Khomeini International Airport on Wednesday morning, killing all 176 people on board.

The Ukrainian embassy in Tehran initially echoed this stance, but later retracted its statement, and instead said it was for an official commission to determine the cause of the accident.

People and rescue teams are pictured amid bodies and debris. All 176 people on board a Ukrainian passenger plane were killed when it crashed shortly after taking off, Iranian state media reported
ISNA/AFP via Getty

While some aviation experts said it was too early to speculate, the OPS group, an aviation risk monitoring group, said: “We would recommend the starting assumption to be that this was a shootdown event, similar to MH17 – until there is clear evidence to the contrary," highlighting photos of the crash site which they said "show obvious projectile holes in the fuselage and a wing section."

UIA has also discounted the possibility of technical problems, insisting there was “nothing wrong” with the three-year old Boeing 737-800, which had undergone a scheduled technical check only two days earlier.

Passengers' belongings West Asia News Agency via Reuters

"We guarantee the safety of our aircraft and the high qualification of our crews,” a spokesperson said.

Iran has said it will not be handing over the plane’s black box recorder to US plane manufacturer Boeing.

Philip Baum, the editor of Aviation Security International magazine, said it was too early to speculate.

Members of the International Red Crescent collect bodies of victims EPA

He told The Independent the incident was notable “given the fact it was in Iran and the timing, and if you associate two states with shootdowns, as victims, then Ukraine springs to mind purely because of MH17,” and Iran, given the 1988 US shooting down of an Iranian civilian plane.

But, he added, it could just be “a bizarre coincidence that it should happen at this moment of time.”

West Asia News Agency via Reuters

“I just think there is nothing to indicate that it was a shootdown, and if it was shot down then by whom?”

Zeev Sarig, the former head of Ben Gurion airport in Israel, said a technical failure could be behind the plane crash, or an explosive device on board.

Speaking to Russian news agency RIA, he said that while a full investigation was necessary, the two main possibilities were, “a bomb on board that runs on a timer or altitude monitor, exploding when the plane reaches a certain height".

A relative of a victim reacts at Boryspil International Airport, outside Kiev Reuters

The second possibility, he said, “is a technical malfunction about which we don't know anything yet. Unfortunately from what I see that looks less likely.”

Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry, said the pilot “lost control of the plane” after a fire broke out in one of its engines.

Image via AP

The aircraft is a predecessor to the Boeing 737 Max 8, which has been grounded for 10 months following the Lion Air crash in 2018, and the Ethiopian Airlines crash in 2019.

Faulty flight-control software on board those two Boeing 737 Max 8 airliners resulted in the planes nose-diving, leading to the deaths of 346 people.

Officials inspect the wreckage EPA

Airline officials said most of the passengers were en route to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, transiting through there to other destinations.

Three Britons were among those who died.

Part of the wreckage Iran Press via Reuters

On Wednesday morning, Iranian missiles hit US military bases in Iraq, in response to last week’s targeted US killing of top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.


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This article first appeared on Independent.

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