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

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

  • 12 July 2020

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Search and rescue teams comb the wreckage of a Boeing 737 that crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport
Image captionThe 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.

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