Flight PS752: Canadian investigators observe work on jet data loggers shot down by Iranian military

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TORONTO – French aviation safety investigators have successfully downloaded data from the cockpit voice recorder of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, said the president of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. Flight recorders have been sent to Paris for data mining, a process that began on Monday and is being watched by a number of countries, including Canada.

TSB President Kathy Fox told CTV News Channel that the flight data would help confirm the sequence of events on January 8 when two missiles deployed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards jammed the Boeing 737-800 which was carrying 176 people on board.

This included 55 Canadians, 30 permanent residents of Canada, and dozens more with ties to this country.

Because Iran was the site of the accident, it is investigating.

The data mining process is also being observed by Swedish, UK and US aircraft accident investigators, as well as representatives of the airline, Boeing and aircraft engine maker Safran.

“That being said, our role in this investigation is quite limited, to being able to visit the crash site, which we did, as well as receiving information that they approved for publication,” Fox said. .

“We continue to ask for a higher status that allows us to participate more actively in the investigation, but that remains to be seen.”

The plane had just left Tehran airport and was heading for Kiev when it was shot down.

Iran only agreed to send the black boxes to France last month, after months of international pressure.

Global Affairs Canada said on Monday that the delivery of the black boxes to France’s aviation investigation office “is long overdue and is just one step towards completing the safety investigation.”

He said the International Coordination and Response Group for Victims of Flight PS752 “will continue to work to ensure transparency, accountability and justice, including reparations, for the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy.”

This international group includes Afghanistan, Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Fox says the wait “must be excruciating” for those close to the victims and that the TSB is doing everything it can to ensure they get the answers they deserve.

After initially denying responsibility, Iranian military forces admitted flying for a missile at a time of tension with the United States. In a report released on July 11, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization attributed the incident to a misaligned missile battery and a lack of communication between soldiers and commanders.

The same night the plane crashed, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards launched a missile attack on US soldiers in Iraq, in retaliation for a US drone strike that killed Guard General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad January 3.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Global Affairs Canada responded to the report saying Canada would hold Iran to account, asking it to immediately conduct a “full and transparent investigation” in accordance with international standards. .

Fox says the TSB continues to analyze Iran’s report “but we cannot independently confirm the validity of what it contains. ”

She said this provided information, but “also raised a bunch of additional questions that needed to be answered as to why, and more importantly, what needs to be done to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.”

Fox says three key questions remain unanswered: why were missiles launched against a civilian aircraft, why was airspace not closed in times of conflict, and why commercial airlines like Ukraine International Airlines continued to operate there.

The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 on July 17, 2014, which killed 298 people, sparked the same questions, Fox said. But the lessons learned have not been fully implemented to improve safety, especially for civilian airlines flying in conflict zones.

Pierre-Henri Chuet, former French Navy fighter pilot and aviation consultant and lecturer, told CTV News Channel on Monday that voice and data recorders will show what happened after the plane was hit by the first missile.

“Because, from the footage, it looks like the plane was starting to roll over. Could he have returned safely after the first attack, that is a big question. ”

Chuet says there is a lot of expertise within the French aviation safety agency and that it will be known within days if the information on the recorders is useful.

CTV News aviation analyst Phyl Durdey says flight recorders are unlikely to reveal much new information. It’s already pretty clear what happened to bring the plane down, he told CTV News Channel, the tapes providing “definitive answers to what was going on in the cockpit” at the time.

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