What caused the Ukrainian International Airlines 737-800 to crash shortly after takeoff from Tehran? Why have Ukraine and Iran released contradictory initial reports? With tense relations between the United States and Iran, how will the crash be investigated? Will Boeing be allowed to take part in the investigation?
What Do We Know About The UIA 737-800 Crash?
Speculation is not helpful, but let’s count up what we know:
- Hours before the crash, Iran fired two missiles toward U.S. bases in Iraq, allegedly deliberately missing the target so as not to further ratchet up tensions.
- Peter Goelz, a former Managing Director of the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States, told the New York Times investigators will probe a potential aircraft attack “at the top of their agenda”.
- The UIA 737-800 that crashed had a perfect safety record and was built in 2016.
- Automatic transmission of flight data abruptly ceased minutes after takeoff, after the plane climbed to 8,000 feet at a speed of roughly 300mph.
- Ali Abedzadeh, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, told Mehr News Agency that Iran would not send the “black box” recorders from the crash to Boeing.
- Ukraine will be involved in the investigation.
- At a press conference in Kyiv, UIA officials said that the crew was highly trained and downplayed the possibility pilot error or lax maintenance was to blame for the crash.
- Abolfazl Shekarchi, a spokesperson for the Iranian Armed Forces, was asked whether Iran could accidentally or deliberately targeted the aircraft. His response:
- “This is ridiculous. Most of the passengers on this flight were our valued young Iranian men and women. Whatever we do, we do it for the protection and defense of our country and our people.”
- Iranian state media has blamed the crash on a technical fault with the American-made aircraft, but not provided evidence.
- Some images of the crash suggest there is shrapnel damage on the fuselage of the aircraft (circular holes).
- Qassem Biniaz, an official of Iran’s Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, blamed the accident on the aircraft catching fire.
- Locals near the crash site were awakened by the crash and shattered windows that resulted; many thought they were under attack.
- 176 people are confirmed dead from the crash.
- 63 Canadians (many with dual Iranian passports) were onboard.
- Justin Trudeau, Prime Minster of Canada, said:
- “Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that this crash is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians’ questions are answered.”
- Other nationals onboard included:
- 82 Iranians
- 11 Ukrainians (including 9 crew members)
- 10 Swedes
- 4 Afghans
- 3 Germans
- 3 British
- 12PM ET Update – A U.S. official has told CBS News the Iranians accidentally shot down the UIA 737, thinking it was a U.S. rocket
This is a fast-moving story, and a perplexing one. It is too early to conclude what happened, but helpful to begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
> Read More: No Survivors In Boeing 737-800 Crash In Iran