LONDON – The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has called on the Iranian government to expedite its investigation into Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, which was shot down after departure from Tehran (IKA).
The preliminary report stated that all 176 people died in the crash, with the accident coming into controversy due to the Air Defense Coordination Center in Iran already approving the aircraft to enter military airspace despite being shot down.
The Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau applied further pressure on Iran by endorsing the words of ICAO and has called for the country to publish a full account of the accident.
Garneau has placed particular pressure on this issue as 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents lost their lives in the accident.
Calls for Speed
In a statement, the ICAO President Salvatore Sciacchitano urged Iranian officials not to delay the investigation of the crash, as answers are needed. “We have had several exchanges with the Iranian CAA in which we urged its authorities to expedite the accident investigation in accordance with ICAO Annex 13 provisions”.
“It should also be recalled that a team composed of ICAO Secretariat experts was established immediately following the accident in order to support the investigation, and that the Council had earlier endorsed the ‘Safer Skies’ initiative following the downing of flight PS752 and aimed at enhancing safety over hazardous or conflict zones,”
The Iranians may not necessarily speed the process up as the government knows the errors that it has made when it came to shooting down the aircraft.
The Events As It Happened
UR-PSR, the aircraft involved, departed from IKA at 0612L on January 8 this year, and three minutes into its flight, was shot down by two IRGC Tor M-1 missiles.
The reports stated that the IRGC failed to take account of the recent relocation of an air defense unit which resulted in a 107-degree discrepancy in the aircraft being tracked.
That meant that the Iranian defence body thought that there was a hostile aircraft in the airspace, when actually it was PS752 that had been cleared into the airspace.
The Iranian Government initially denied shooting down the aircraft, but mass protests broke out in the capital to remove Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, resulting in the state eventually admitting to it.
Tensions would no doubt have been high in the Iranian capital, especially with the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani by the United States in retaliation for attacks on the U.S Embassy in Baghdad by Hezbollah.
It even determined the point that Iran was on the highest state of defensive alert, with the Commander of the Air Force in Iran stating that the country was “totally prepared for a full-fledged war”.
So such intensity in tensions would of course resulted in this mistake being made, as things may not have been checked properly before the aircraft entered airspace.
All eyes will now be on the Iranian Government to release its findings pertinent to the crash. But the timing of it will be something to look out for to establish whether ICAO and Canadian pressure worked or not.
Once the report has been published, discussions will no doubt take place on a political perspective, as some level of severance and compensation will be needed to account for the lives lost in the accident.
It will be interesting to see what indeed happens next and whether the political implications of the report will be greater than what the Iranians are expecting or not.
Featured Image: Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons