MIAMI – A Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 has crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran in the early hours of this morning.
It is understood that 176 people were on board the aircraft, consisting of 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghani, three Britons, and three Germans.
Flight PS752 was a scheduled flight between the Iranian capital and Kyiv.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran initially blamed the crash on an engine failure but later removed such allegations.
The airline gave a statement expressing condolences and delivering instructions on what to do to contact them regarding the crash.
“UIA expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the air crash and will do everything possible to support the relatives of the victims,” said the airline.
This would be the first major incident of the year, and of the 2020 decade, claiming the lives of more than 170 passengers.
The carrier has created a dedicated telephone number for relatives of the passengers, with a request to call as soon as possible by phone: 0 800 601 527 (for calls from Ukraine). +38 044 581 50 19 (for calls from abroad) for information and assistance.
Iranian state media claims that terrorism has played no role in the crash, given the current tensions between the United States and Iran at the moment.
However, there’s a rapidly growing assumption that the plane was shut down by anti-ballistic missiles in the area. Ground witnesses claim that the plane went down covered in fire. Ground imagery suggests that holes in the fuselage and tail might have been caused by a projectile.
However, Ali Abedzadeh told the IRNA News Agency that “had the accident happened due to a missile strike, the plane would have exploded in the air”.
This was exemplified when American airbases in Iraq had been attacked, with the Iranians taking responsibility for this.
This had resulted in the likes of Air France and KLM using alternative routes as well as Lufthansa actually canceling its daily services to Tehran.
Qantas Airways, Air India, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines are also to take action regarding the currently escalating tensions in the Gulf, either canceling flights or completely avoiding Iranian airspace.
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, is flying back to Kyiv amongst the news, warning against “speculation or unchecked theories regarding the catastrophe” until the preliminary and official reports had been released.
The aircraft in question was UR-PSR, a Boeing 737-800 that was delivered new to the airline back in 2016 on lease from Varangian Leasing.
The current configuration of the aircraft was set to carry 186 passengers, meaning that the flight was around 94% full.
Boeing has commented on the incident already, stating condolences and a hand ready to cooperate with authorities.
“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”, the statement read.
Such cooperation may be limited as the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization had been quoted to say that black box and flight data recorders would not be handed over to Boeing or the Americans as a whole.
This could trigger some more difficulties in trying to establish what the root cause of the crash was, due to potential resources that the likes of the Americans in the FAA may have.
That being said, this could also be part of the geopolitical situation in which the Americans will have to pay a price for those boxes.
Overall, this is a tragic start to the year for the industry, and on behalf of Airways, our thoughts are with those affected.
This is a developing story.