The shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS752 by Iranian missiles shortly after departing Imam Khomeini International (IKA) Airport in Tehran, has been described as an “outrage” by the International Air Transport Association. The 8 January tragedy calls into question the security of airspace in conflict zones along key international routes, and highlights a lack of progress on international collaboration following the tragedy of MH17.
Though Iran’s civil aviation authority had previously suggested that something else caused the aircraft crash, Iran’s military issued a statement on Saturday, 11 January confirming that the Boeing 737-800 had been shot down in error.
In a press briefing on Saturday in Kiev, airline executives said UIA had received no warning from the airport about a possible threat prior to departure, and that the facility was operating normally.
“We didn’t doubt for a second that our crew and our plane could not be the cause for this tragic accident. Thank you to all those who were thinking and analyzing this, who shared and shared this belief with us. It is very important for us. These were our best guys and girls. The best. We grieve and the whole world grieves with us. 167 lives lost. 9 of our crew members,” said UIA president Evgeniy Dykhne.
Though Iran had sent missiles targeting military bases in Iraq hours earlier, and was on alert for a counter-attack, the airline shared data with the press showing that a number of flights had departed from IKA that morning, before PS752. They included Qatar Airways QR8408, bound for Hong Kong, which left less than forty minutes prior to the ill-fated flight.
While some Iranian officials have suggested that the aircraft may have taken a turn towards a military base that put it in danger, flight path data from Flightradar24, provided by UIA during the briefing, shows the path of the flight was normal and within the limits of other flights that had departed earlier.