Vatican News

Iran says 'human error' to blame for downing of Ukrainian plane

Aviation authorities in Iran have blamed a misalignment of a radar system for the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January that killed 176 people.

By Nathan Morley

This long-delayed report, compiled by Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, attempts to detail what happened to Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 which crashed outside Tehran in January.

The Boeing 737-800 had just taken-off for Ukraine with 167 passengers and nine crew members on board when it was shot out of the sky. The dead included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians along with Ukrainians, Swedes, Afghans, Germans, and citizens from the UK.

Nathan Morley reports:

At first the Iranians denied responsibility, then days later changed course admitting plane was mistaken for a hostile target after it turned towards a sensitive military centre of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The downing of the flight happened just hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing US soldiers in response to an attack which killed a senior Iranian military commander, Qaseem Solemani.

At the time the military said it was at its ‘highest level of readiness amid the heightened tensions with the United States’.

This new report states the Iranian army surface-to-air missile battery which targeted the jetliner had been relocated and was not properly reoriented.

The report added that those manning the missile battery could not communicate with their command centre; they misidentified the civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without getting approval from senior officials.

Furthermore, the report notes that Flight 752 had done nothing out of the ordinary up until the missile launch, with its transponder and other data working normally. The aircraft was flying at a normal altitude and trajectory.

The report puts the blame entirely on the crew of the missile battery.

Iran will send the black box to Paris next week, where Ukrainian and French experts will examine it.

13 July 2020, 17:36