A Boeing Co. 737 passenger jet bound for Ukraine crashed shortly after takeoff in Iran, killing everyone on board.
All 167 passengers and 9 crew died after Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a 737-800 model jet, crashed at 6:18 a.m. local time in Sabashahr near Tehran, Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said on its website. The head of Tehran’s Disaster Mitigation and Management Organization, Mansour Darajati, said early assessments suggest the crash was caused by a technical issue and an emergency meeting will be held in the coming hours, state-run IRNA reported.
NEW: Photos published by Iranian news agency ISNA shows site of Ukrainian jet crash near Tehran airport (ISNA) pic.twitter.com/eT2xWdZRO4
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) January 8, 2020
An official at Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that a Ukraine International flight crashed and there were no survivors. Television footage showed recovery efforts at the crash site, where metal and other debris was spread over a charred field.
The tragedy comes at a tense time for both Iran and Boeing.
Iran has fired more than a dozen missiles at U.S.-Iraqi airbases in retaliation to the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani last week. Just prior to Wednesday’s crash, U.S. aviation regulators issued new restrictions barring civilian flights over Iraq and Iran. Meanwhile, Boeing is still reeling from one of its worst crises ever following two disasters involving its best-selling 737 Max jets, a successor to the plane that crashed that has been grounded globally since March.
Under international law, Iran would lead any investigation since the crash occurred on its soil. Few nations have the expertise and technical facilities to conduct a full accident probe, however, so the U.S., France or other countries often provide assistance. The plane’s crash-proof recorders, for example, will have to be downloaded in a specialized lab and only a handful exist around the world.
International rules for air crash investigations also allow the country that manufactured the plane to participate in an investigation. That arrangement allows planemakers to provide their technical expertise. But the current political turmoil between Iran and the U.S. is likely to complicate the involvement of the U.S.’ National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing.
The website flightradar24 showed the 737-800 jet left Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport for Ukraine’s Boryspil International Airport early Wednesday morning local time.
PS752 was operated by a 737-800 (not a MAX) registered UR-PSR. Delivered new to Ukraine International Airlines in 2016. pic.twitter.com/eMhnBtpQP6
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) January 8, 2020
“We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information,” Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in an email.
The jet lifted off and climbed to about 7,900 feet altitude (2,408 meters) and was traveling at about 300 miles (483 kilometers) an hour when it stopped transmitting its position and disappeared, according to data supplied by FlightRadar24. Other aircraft operating out of Tehran were tracked normally, said FlightRadar24 spokesman Ian Petchenik.
A Ukraine International employee picking up the general line declined to comment. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky cut a trip to Oman short to go to Kyiv, his office said.
Website planefinder.net, which tracks flights worldwide, listed the two-engine aircraft that crashed as being three years old, saying it was delivered in July 2016.
We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information.
— The Boeing Company (@Boeing) January 8, 2020
Boeing is still struggling with the fallout from crashes in Indonesia in October 2018 and Ethiopia last March. Those disasters, which killed nearly 350 people, involved the U.S. manufacturer’s 737 Max jet, which has been grounded globally for 10 months. The 737-800 and 737 Max are both variants of Boeing’s 737 narrow-body planes but the 737-800 hasn’t been grounded.
Boeing is still developing a fix for the flaws discovered in a flight-control system new to the 737 Max model. The 737-800 that is reported to have crashed near Tehran on Wednesday didn’t have that system.