<!--[if IE]><![endif]-->
Middle East
Middle East

Iran plane crash: 'Human error' to blame for downing of Ukrainian jet

  • 12 July 2020
Related Topics
Search and rescue teams comb the wreckage of a Boeing 737 that crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport Image copyright EPA Image caption The plane came down shortly after taking off from Tehran

Iran has said the misalignment of air defence equipment was responsible for the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January.

In a report released on Saturday, the Civil Aviation Organisation of Iran (CAOI) blamed "human error" and poor military communication.

All 176 people on board were killed when the plane was hit by two missiles shortly after take-off in Tehran.

Iran initially denied responsibility for the incident.

But after Western intelligence officials said evidence pointed to Iranian involvement, the country admitted fault, saying it had mistaken the plane for a cruise missile. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described it as an "unforgivable mistake".

The Ukraine International Airlines flight was downed on 8 January amid heightened tensions between Iran and America.

Iran's air defences had been on high alert at the time. Hours earlier, the country had fired ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by a US drone strike in Baghdad.

What does the report say?

A full version of the CAOI's report has not been made publicly available, but excerpts have been published by state news agency Fars.

In its findings, the CAOI said the passenger plane travelled in a normal flight corridor, but the air defence unit that targeted it had recently moved and failed to calibrate its equipment correctly. As a result, it misidentified the civilian plane as a hostile object.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMobile phone footage appears to show the plane in the moments before it came down

The report also said the missile battery could not communicate with their command centre, and fired on the plane without receiving official approval.

"If each had not arisen, the aircraft would not have been targeted," the CAOI concluded.

Last month, Iranian authorities said six people have been arrested over the incident.

Iran has repeatedly delayed releasing the plane's "black box", which holds key data and communications from the cockpit. It is expected to send the box to France for examination on 20 July, according to state news agency IRNA.

There has been much speculation about why Iran did not clear the skies during the attack. A recent audio recording obtained by Canada's CBC News suggests that the airspace remained open to avoid giving away Iran's intention to attack the US air base in Iraq.

The recording is allegedly a conversation between the family of one of the accident victims and Hassan Rezaeifar, who at the time was leading Iran's investigation into the incident.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Baharvand dismissed the recording, saying it could not be used as evidence.

More on this story

  • Iran plane crash: Tor-M1 missiles fired at Ukraine jet
    21 January 2020
  • Iran plane crash: Ukrainian jet was 'unintentionally' shot down
    11 January 2020

Top Stories

Lockdown measures reintroduced in Preston

New cases of coronavirus have more than doubled in the city in the space of a week.

7 August 2020
Virus cases 'may be levelling off' in England
7 August 2020
Air India jet breaks in two in Kerala killing 16
7 August 2020

Features

Beirut explosion: 'We don't have dreams any more'

Where can I go on holiday without having to quarantine?

Why are migrants crossing the English Channel?

Am I allowed to the park or beach in the hot weather?

How to stay cool in a face mask in the heat

This is what coronavirus will do to our offices and homes

Runners 'gutted' as London Marathon goes virtual

Will a Eurovision-style contest work in the US?

'It took 32 years, but I finally found my kidnapped son'

Elsewhere on the BBC