Iran recovers data and conversations from black box cockpit of Ukraine Flight 752

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Iran has recovered some data, including some of the cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian airliner accidentally shot down by Revolutionary Guards in January, killing all 176 people on board, an Iranian official said on Sunday.This is revealed by a report posted on the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization’s website, which describes the official’s remarks as part of the final report Tehran plans to publish on the downing of flight 752. Ukraine International Airlines.

The development comes months after the Jan.8 crash near Tehran. Iranian authorities initially denied responsibility, only changing course a few days later, after Western countries presented ample evidence that Iran shot down the plane.

All 176 people on board were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents, as well as dozens of others with ties to Canada.

The troops were preparing for the American strike

The shooting took place the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting US soldiers in Iraq, its response to the US drone strike that killed Guard General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.

At the time, Iranian troops were preparing for a US counterattack and appear to have flown for a missile. Iran, however, did not acknowledge that, claiming only that after the ballistic missile attack, its air defense was sufficiently alert and allowed the resumption of previously scheduled air traffic – a reference to the Ukrainian aircraft cleared. to take off from Tehran.

The Ukrainian plane was reportedly targeted by two missiles. It had just taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran when the first missile exploded, possibly damaging its radio equipment. The second missile likely hit the plane directly, as videos from that night show the plane exploding in a fireball before crashing into a playground and farmland on the outskirts of Tehran.

For days after the crash, Iranian investigators combed the site, sifting through debris from the plane.

Iranian Civil Aviation Organization chief Captain Touraj Dehghani Zangeneh said on Sunday that the Ukrainian passenger plane’s black boxes had only 19 seconds of talk time after the first explosion, although the second missile reached the aircraft 25 seconds later. The citing report does not give details.

He said the first missile explosion sent shrapnel into the plane, likely disrupting the plane’s recorders. He did not reveal any details of the conversation in the cockpit that was recovered.

Canada present during the process

Representatives from Canada, the United States, Ukraine, France, Great Britain and Sweden – countries whose citizens were killed in the accident – were present during the process of collecting data from the recorders, a Zangeneh said.

In the months since the plane crashed, Iran battled the largest and deadliest coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. The Iranian government is also grappling with crushing US sanctions and vast domestic economic problems.

Last month, an initial report from the Iranian investigation said a misaligned missile battery, poor communication between the troops and their commanders and a decision to fire without authorization all led to the plane’s fatal fall. line.

Several hundred people gather around the Centennial Flame in Ottawa for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of those killed on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on January 9. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)

According to this report, the surface-to-air missile battery that targeted the Boeing 737-800 had been relocated and had not been properly reoriented. Those responsible for the missile battery could not communicate with their command center, mistakenly identified civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without obtaining approval from officials, he said. he declares.

Western intelligence officials and analysts believe Iran shot down the plane with a Russian-made Tor system, known to NATO as the SA-15. In 2007, Iran took delivery of 29 Tor M1 units to Russia under a contract valued at an estimated US $ 700 million. The system is mounted on a tracked vehicle and carries a radar and an eight missile pack.

The initial report did not specify why the Revolutionary Guards had moved the air defense system, although this area near the airport is believed to be home to both regular military and Paramilitary Guard bases.

He also noted that the Ukrainian flight did nothing extraordinary until the launch of the missile, with its transponder and other data being broadcast. The black boxes from the plane were brought to Paris in July, to the French accident investigation agency BEA, where they are being examined.

“The data recovery activities were all done for the sake of security and prevention of similar incidents,” Zangeneh said, adding an appeal against “any political use of the process”.

He said Iranian airspace was now “safe and ready” for international flights.

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