Iran admits it shot down flight PS752, blames human error

The involved Boeing 737-800. Photo: © Planes Airshows

The Islamic Republic of Iran has, on Saturday, admitted that it shot down Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS752, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday morning.

Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran, says missiles ‘fired due to human error’ are behind the crash of the Ukrainian airliner, which killed 176 people, mostly Iranians and Canadians.

This comes after foreign authorities, including American and Canadian ones, on Thursday announced that they see a shot down as highly likely to be the reason for this accident. Iran initially denied these claims and said the plane crashed due to technical problems.

Iran now further states that the aircraft flew close to a sensitive military site, a statement that can easily be disproved through data from flight tracking sites. Flightradar24 itself posted a graphic, showing that flight PS752 flew a normal path after taking off from Tehran, just like every day. Other flights on the same morning also had similar routes.

Ukraine International Airlines’ Vice President insured that the aircraft flew its normal route and did not get off course.

The Iranian government repeatedly said it has invited investigators from several countries, including Ukraine, Canada, the United States and France to assist with the probe into this disaster. France’s authority responsible for air crash investigations, the BEA, had initially denied that it was asked to provide assistance with PS752’s Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder, often referred to as ‘blackboxes’. It changed its statement on Saturday evening, saying that it will assist with the examination of the recorders, which will be sent to Ukraine. Both ‘blackboxes’ were recovered from the wreckage, Iranian officials said. Ukraine stated it has sent a number of experts to the crash site in Iran.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) of the United Nations has warned of ‘a lot of misinformation’ regarding publications concerning international involvement in the investigation.

Details of this shot down are yet to be clarified. “A through and transparent investigation is critical.“, the International Air Traffic Association (IATA) states. “It is an outrage that a civil aircraft […] is downed even inadvertently by military action.

On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he demands a transparent and throughout investigation into the cause of the crash, which killed 57 Canadians, among 82 Iranians and other nationalities. Saturday, he added that, so far, Iran has granted visas to three officials. The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has requested permission for its own experts to engage in the on-site investigation in Iran.

PS752, operated by a 3.5 year-old Boeing 737-800 registered as UR-PSR, was scheduled to fly from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport (IATA: IKA) to Kiev’s Boryspil Airport (IATA: KBP). According to data provided by the airline and confirmed by Canadian officials, 138 of the 167 passengers were due to connect onto another Ukraine International Airlines flight to Toronto, Canada. There were nine Ukrainian crew members on board. The shot down of flight 752 marks the first fatal accident in the history of the Ukrainian flag-carrier.