An international plane crash involving a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 passenger jet killed all 167 passengers and nine crewmembers on board the aircraft on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. The 737 plummeted into a field minutes after it took off from Tehran. Iranian officials are now investigating what caused the catastrophe.
Plane Crashed Minutes After Takeoff
At 6:12 am on January 8, almost an hour after its scheduled departure time, Ukraine International Flight PS752 took off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, bound for Kyiv, Ukraine. Between two and three minutes later, the plane ceased automatic transmission of flight data, although the plane did not crash for another few minutes.
During its short flight, the Boeing 737 reached an altitude of almost 8,000 feet and a speed of over 300 miles per hour. The plane’s takeoff and initial climb appeared normal, but then the aircraft stopped sending data. It flew northwest for several miles after the transponder stopped sending signals and crashed into a field near Khalaj Abad. Flight crew did not send any emergency messages to air traffic control before the tragedy.
A video shows the plane flying while on fire and then a fireball erupting when the plane crashes.
Airline Releases Victims’ Names
Ukraine International Airlines has released the passengers’ names. Among those who died were people from Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany, and Britain. Officials sent out conflicting statements about the breakdown of victims’ nationalities, possibly because some passengers may have been dual citizens.
Officials Investigate Cause of Ukraine International Plane Crash
Iranian officials are investigating what caused the crash. Initially, a government source blamed the crash on an engine fire that caused the pilot to lose control of the plane.
Investigators found the plane’s black boxes, which contain flight data, cockpit conversations and other information that can help determine what brought the plane down.
Due to tension in Iran, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned American airliners from flying over Iran. That ban was issued the day before the Ukraine International plane crash. Ukraine International Airlines said it was canceling all flights to Tehran. Airlines from some other countries have also said they would divert their flight path so as not to fly over Iran.
Evidence Suggests Plane was Brought Down by a Missile
Several credible reports suggest Ukraine International flight PS752 was accidentally shot down in a missile strike. Although investigating authorities have not confirmed the tragedy was the result of a missile, leaders in Canada and the United Kingdom say there is evidence that an Iranian surface-to-air missile caused the tragedy. Both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for a full investigation into the crash, though neither have said they believe the missile strike was intentional.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources including our allies and our own intelligence, the intelligence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “This may well have been unintentional.” He noted it is too early to see the crash as an act of war.
That evidence reportedly includes verified data analysis of satellite, radar, and other sources that show that the plane was hit by two Russian-made surface-to-air missiles. Experts also say that an engine failure would not explain the circumstances surrounding the crash, specifically that electronics were disabled and that the crew could not land the plane safely. In the case of an engine failure, fail-safe designs on the plane should have allowed it to land at the airport from which it had just departed.
Canada’s intelligence agency said it will be involved in investigating the crash.