A Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737-800 on flight PS752 has crashed shortly after takeoff from Iranian capital Tehran.
The flight took off at 6:10 am local time and was heading from Tehran’s Iman Khomeini Airport to Kiev Boryspil Airport in the Ukraine.
Initial reports from Iranian state media cite emergency crews saying there were at least 176 people on board, consisting of 167 passengers and nine crew. None of the occupants survived the crash.
According to passenger information provided by Ukrainian officials, there were 82 Iranian and 63 Canadian citizens among those killed in the crash; eleven people are from the Ukraine and ten from Sweden. Canadian officials say a total of 138 passengers who sat on flight 752 were due to connect on another Ukraine International flight to Toronto, Canada.
Playback data from flight tracking site Flightradar24 shows that the signal from the aircraft was lost two-three minutes after departure. The Boeing 737-800 was built and delivered to the Ukrainian flag-carrier in mid-2016 and is registered as UR-PSR.
We are following reports that a Ukrainian 737-800 has crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran. #PS752 departed Tehran at 02:42UTC. Last ADS-B data received at 02:44UTC. https://t.co/qXWHUPGDTu pic.twitter.com/vuAi6TOqTp
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) January 8, 2020
A reason for this crash is not yet known. Iranian state media hastily claimed technical issues were behind the accident. However, there currently is no clear evidence supporting these reports. The tragedy comes in the middle of a conflict between Iran and the United States, which involved military strikes just hours before this Ukraine International 737 vanished.
Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation says it was able to recover both flight recorders. It is a usual proceeding in an aircraft accident, that the country the airline is based in, as well as the manufacturer and its country, send their own experts to assist with the probe. Given the political conflict going on, it remains unclear whether Iran allows foreign assistance for this investigation. The country has already refused to hand the flight recorders to Boeing and the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for examination.
While the Ukraine did announce that it is sending teams to Iran for the investigation, there is no sign of other, possibly independent air crash investigators approved by the government in Tehran. This potentially raises questions over the transparency of the ongoing case.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing is aware of the reports and is ‘gathering more information’, the company posted on Twitter. This was later followed by a vague statement, which says that Boeing is ‘in contact’ with its customer UIA. It does not mention anything on an investigation with a possible Boeing involvement.
This is a tragic event and our heartfelt thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and stand by them in this difficult time. We are ready to assist in any way needed. pic.twitter.com/TsTlyY34Vd
— The Boeing Company (@Boeing) January 8, 2020
Meanwhile, UIA provided more details regarding the crew on the flight. The Ukrainian carrier says that there were three pilots on board (captain, instructor & first officer), with the captain having 11,600 flight hours on the Boeing 737 aircraft type. Even the first officer has 7600 hours of experience with the plane.
1992-founded Ukraine International Airlines operates a fleet which includes 25 Boeing 737 NG family aircraft. The airline has now suspended its flights to Tehran until further notice. PS752 is the first fatal accident in the history of UIA.
Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. He built up the website IFN.news and is the Editor-In-Chief of International Flight Network.