FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2020, file photo, debris at the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran. Iran has retrieved some data, including a portion of cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian jetliner accidentally downed by the Revolutionary Guard forces in January, killing all 176 people on board, an Iranian official said Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2020, file photo, debris at the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran. Iran has retrieved some data, including a portion of cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian jetliner accidentally downed by the Revolutionary Guard forces in January, killing all 176 people on board, an Iranian official said Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Iran retrieves data, cockpit talk from downed Ukraine plane

Plane had just taken off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport when the first missile exploded

Iran has retrieved some data, including a portion of cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian jetliner accidentally downed by the Revolutionary Guard forces in January, killing all 176 people on board, an Iranian official said Sunday.

That’s according to a report on the website of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, which described the official’s remarks as part of the final report that Tehran plans to issue on the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

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

The shootdown happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting U.S. soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone strike that killed Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3.

At the time, Iranian troops were bracing for a U.S. counterstrike and appear to have mistaken the plane for a missile. Iran, however, has not acknowledges that, only saying that after the ballistic missile attack, its air defence was sufficiently alert and had allowed previously scheduled air traffic to resume — a reference to the Ukrainian plane being allowed to take off from Tehran.

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

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

The head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, Capt. Touraj Dehghani Zangeneh, said on Sunday that the Ukrainian passenger plane’s black boxes have only 19 seconds of conversation following the first explosion, though the second missile reached the plane 25 seconds later. The report quoting him did not elaborate.

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 cockpit conversation that was retrieved.

Representatives from the U.S., Ukraine, France, Canada, Britain and Sweden — countries whose citizens were killed in the crash — were present during the process to gather data from the recorders, Zangeneh said.

In the months since the downing of the plane, Iran has struggled with the Middle East’s largest and deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus. The Iranian government is also grappling with both crushing U.S. sanctions and vast domestic economic problems.

Last month, an initial report from the Iranian investigation said that a misaligned missile battery, miscommunication between troops and their commanders and a decision to fire without authorization all led to the fatal downing of the jetliner.

That report said the surface-to-air missile battery that targeted the Boeing 737-800 had been relocated and was not properly reoriented. Those manning the missile battery could not communicate with their command centre, they misidentified the civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without getting approval from ranking officials, it said.

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

The initial report did not say why the Guard moved the air defence system, though that area near the airport is believed to be home to both regular military and bases of the paramilitary Guard.

It also noted that the Ukrainian flight had done nothing out of the ordinary up until the missile launch, with its transponder and other data being broadcast. The aircraft’s black box flight recorder was sent to Paris in June, where international investigators have been examining it.

“Data recovery activity was all done with the aim of safety and preventing similar incidents,” Zangeneh said, adding an appeal against “any political use of the process.”

He added that Iran’s airspace is now “safe and ready” for international flights.

Nasser Karimi, The Associated Press

Flight 752 crash in Iran

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

The BC Wildfire Service is urging caution amid forecasts of strong winds throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre. (BC Wildfire Service photo)
Strong winds forecasted for Kamloops Fire Centre, BC Wildfire service urges caution

“Wind can cause grass fires to spread very quickly,” says the BC Wildfire Service

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Hesco baskets were first used outside the Cache Creek fire hall in 2020 (pictured), and have once again been put in place as a pre-emptive measure to safeguard the hall against possible flooding. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Cache Creek taking pre-emptive measures to prevent flooding

Sand and sandbags will soon be available for all residents who need them

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

Richard Desautel with supporters outside the courthouse in Nelson, B.C., in 2016. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
UPDATED: Sinixt, First Nation bordering Canada-U.S., can claim Indigenous rights, top court rules

The decision essentially reverses a 1956 declaration the Sinixt were extinct

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read