Yesterday a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 bound from Tehran to Kiev crashed after takeoff, as the plane lost radar contact while passing through 8,000 feet.
All 176 people onboard died, including the 167 passengers and nine crew.
The timing of this sure seemed suspicious, given escalating tensions between the US and Iran, and given that just hours earlier Iran had taken action against US military bases in Iraq.
What Iran initially claimed
Air crash investigations take time, though Iran’s response was bizarre:
- They immediately claimed that the plane had a technical fault that caused the crash
- That’s despite the fact that the pilots didn’t make a mayday call, and also despite the fact that data recorded for the flight showed a very normal climb, before the plane suddenly disappeared from radar; if there were a technical fault you’d think the plane would show inconsistent airspeed, would descend, etc.
- Iran is refusing to hand over black boxes to foreign officials
So their story didn’t make sense. In fairness, I wasn’t assuming that Iran would intentionally shoot down this plane, since that’s not exactly an attack on the US. 82 passengers on the flight were Iranian, 63 were Canadian, and 11 were Ukrainian, with the balance being from other countries. If it was shot down, my assumption was that it was some sort of mistake.
US officials claim Iran shot down the plane
According to anonymous sources of CBS News, some US officials are now confident that the Ukraine 737-800 was shot down by Iran. The US picked up on signals of a radar being turned on, followed by two surface-to-air missiles being launched. Shortly thereafter the plane exploded.
So far US officials have just spoken on the condition of anonymity, though President Trump has said that “it was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood and somebody could have made a mistake.”
As a precaution, some airlines have canceled and diverted flights bound for Tehran.
An investigation here will be challenging, given the lack of cooperation between the US/Boeing and Iran. While investigations always take a long time, Iran immediately claiming a technical fault despite the lack of an alert from the pilots, and despite the lack of data supporting something like that, made many of us wonder.
The US explanation seems much more plausible, unfortunately…
While there are talks of the situation between the US and Iran already deescalating, it’s sad that there are 176 innocent people who lost their lives as part of this conflict, at least indirectly.