Aviation Experts: Iran Plane Crash Was Most Likely A ‘Shootdown' Event
Iran has claimed that the Ukrainian plane crash near Tehran on Tuesday night was the result of technical failures, but independent aviation experts believe the crash was most likely a “shootdown” event.
According to The Independent, the aviation risk monitoring organization OPS Group said in a statement: “We would recommend the starting assumption to be that this was a shootdown event, similar to MH17 – until there is clear evidence to the contrary," highlighting photos of the crash site which they said "show obvious projectile holes in the fuselage and a wing section."
Still, others have said it is too early to speculate as to the cause of the crash.
Some have acknowledged that the timing and location of the incident — in Iran just after the U.S. killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani — are highly coincidental but suggested it is not outside the realm of possibility that the events are unrelated.
Zeev Sarig, the former head of Ben Gurion airport in Israel, told Russian news agency RIA that he sees two possibilities for the crash: “a bomb on board that runs on a timer or altitude monitor, exploding when the plane reaches a certain height" or “a technical malfunction about which we don't know anything yet.”
“Unfortunately from what I see that looks less likely,” Sarig added.
Following the incident, Iranian officials indicated that “technical issues were behind the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) crash, which happened shortly after take-off from Imam Khomeini International Airport on Wednesday morning, killing all 176 people on board.”
The Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran made a similar assessment initially but has since said it supports an official commission to determine the cause of the crash.
UIA is not on board with the official explanation from Tehran, either, insisting that technical problems were not the culprit and saying there was “nothing wrong” with the three-year-old Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
"We guarantee the safety of our aircraft and the high qualification of our crews,” a spokesperson said, according to The Independent.
Iranian officials indicated they will not be giving the plane’s black box recorder to Boeing.