A Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran, Iran, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board. The cause of the crash is not yet known, though the Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran was quick to rule out both terrorism and a conventional military attack.
Bloomberg identified the jet as Ukraine International Flight 752, a 737-800 NG that was heading from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport for Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport and stopped transmitting roughly 8 minutes after takeoff. Ukraine Airlines told CNN that the plane “was built in 2016 and delivered directly to the airline from the manufacturer.”
“According to preliminary information, the airplane crashed as a result of engine failure due to technical reasons,” the Ukrainian Embassy in Iran said in a statement, according to an English translation by the New York Times. “The possibility of a terrorist attack or a rocket attack can currently be ruled out.”
Curiously, the embassy’s statement, which was published online, delivered a 404 notice as of 4:00 am ET, indicating the statement may have been deleted. It’s not yet clear why.
Ukraine International Airlines said that the crashed plane had passed its last technical service inspection on January 6, according to Reuters. The airline also said that the pilots were “very experienced,” and that there was “nothing wrong” with its plane.
Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs reported the nationalities of those on board, including 82 people from Iran, 63 from Canada, 11 from Ukraine (including 9 crew), 10 from Sweden, 4 from Afghanistan, 3 from the United Kingdom, and 3 from Germany.
A police officer stands guard as debris is seen from an Ukrainian plane which crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Photo: AP
Debris is seen from an Ukrainian plane which crashed as authorities work at the scene in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Photo: AP
Rescue teams work amidst debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board. Photo: AP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indicated that he would cancel an overseas trip to Oman and return to Ukraine in the wake of the crash.
“We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information,” Boeing told the New York Times in a statement shortly after the crash. Boeing did not immediately respond to an email from Gizmodo early Wednesday.
Footage posted to Twitter by BBC Iran correspondent Ali Hashem appeared to show the jet in flames before exploding shortly before its collision with the ground.
Pictures of what’s left of the Ukrainian plane’s wreckage, nothing much, according to Iranian media it’s very unlikely that anyone survived pic.twitter.com/4p81eRfJRW
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) January 8, 2020
There is no indication that the crash has anything to do with retaliatory Iranian missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, conducted in the early hours of Wednesday morning local time, according to multiple sources.
The Iranian strikes followed a U.S. decision to assassinate one of its top military officials, Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, by air strike last week. However, the Federal Aviation Administration imposed emergency restrictions barring U.S. pilots and aircraft from flying over Iran or Iraq due to the risk of being confused with military craft following the missile strikes.
On Oct. 28, 2018, and March 10, 2019, two separate crashes involving Boeing 737 Max jets killed a cumulative 346 people; the entire 737 Max line has been grounded worldwide since, costing the company billions. It continues to work on software fixes for the 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a flight control system intended to compensate for the line’s larger engines, even as Boeing and the FAA face allegations that they ignored safety issues in their rush to rule the jet airworthy. MCAS is not installed on the 737-800 line.
The AFP tweeted out a graphic showing the flight path of Ukraine Airlines flight PS-752 before it crashed.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 8, 2020
“In connection with the information on the existing risks to the security of international flights of civil aircraft before the subsequent notification, the Federal Air Transport Agency recommends not using the airspace over the territories of Iran, Iraq, the Persian and Oman gulfs for flights of civil aircraft of the Russian Federation, including transit flights,” Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency said.
The black box of the plane has reportedly been located and a thorough investigation will be conducted, according to Iranian broadcaster Irib.
Featured image: AP