In this Jan. 8, 2020 file photo, rescue workers search the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of Tehran, Iran. Iranian investigators blamed a misaligned missile battery and miscommunication between soldiers and their commanders for the Revolutionary Guard shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner in January, killing 176 people. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

In this Jan. 8, 2020 file photo, rescue workers search the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of Tehran, Iran. Iranian investigators blamed a misaligned missile battery and miscommunication between soldiers and their commanders for the Revolutionary Guard shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner in January, killing 176 people. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Flight PS752 shot down after being ‘misidentified’ as ‘hostile target,’ Iran’s final report says

Trudeau has promised Canada will offer a pathway to permanent residency for some family members

Iran’s civil aviation authority is blaming “human error” as the reason why a passenger jet was shot down by the Iranian military in January 2020, outlining its findings in a report the Canadian federal government rejected Wednesday as insufficient.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard fired two missiles at Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after it took off from Tehran on Jan. 8 last year, when “the aircraft was misidentified as a hostile target by an air defence unit,” says the agency’s final report into the crash.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra largely dismissed the 145-page document, which was posted to the website of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization.

“The report makes no attempt to answer critical questions about what truly happened. It appears incomplete and has no hard facts or evidence,” the ministers said in a statement.

“We remain deeply concerned about the lack of convincing information and evidence, despite the publication of this investigation report.”

The government is continuing to call for a “comprehensive and transparent” investigation conducted according to international standards.

Under international civil aviation law, the Iranian government led the investigation.

The report, which Canada’s Transportation Safety Board says it will comment on at a news conference scheduled for Thursday, echoes what the Iranian military said last year: human error caused the tragedy — an explanation found wanting by multiple countries that lost citizens.

Iran initially denied responsibility for the crash, but three days later said the Kyiv-bound Boeing 737-800 was shot down by accident after being mistaken for a missile amid heightened tensions with the United States. The admission came after video footage on social media appeared to show at least one missile striking the jet.

The disaster unfolded after Iran launched missiles into Iraq at two American military bases in retaliation for the U.S. having killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad airport by order of then-U.S. president Donald Trump.

All 176 people on board the jetliner were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and dozens of others bound for Canada.

“Their families deserve answers to important questions, including on the series of events that led to these missiles being launched in the first place, and why the airspace was allowed to remain open during a period of heightened hostilities,” Garneau and Alghabra said in their joint statement.

Britain, Ukraine Afghanistan and Sweden also lost citizens when the plane was destroyed, and the countries formed a coalition with Canada to deal with Iran.

A series of mistakes led to the fatal missile launch, the Iranian investigation team found.

An incorrect read on the plane’s flight direction due to “human error” caused an operator to perceive the aircraft as flying northeast toward Tehran at a low altitude, rather than flying west away from the main airport, which it was.

The operator tried to alert the command centre to the apparent threat, “but the message was never relayed,” the report states.

“Without receiving a go-ahead or response from the command centre, he came to identify the target as a hostile one and fired missile (sic) at the aircraft against the procedure planned.”

The first warhead exploded near the aircraft, hurling more than 2,500 pieces of shrapnel toward it at nearly 6,500 km/h — more than five times the speed of sound — damaging the plane and aircraft systems but leaving its structural integrity intact, according to the report.

“(T)he three cockpit crew members were all still alive. They appeared to have sustained no physical injuries.”

The second missile “likely” did affect the aircraft, but the plane plummeted to the ground regardless, crashing near the airport and exploding on impact six minutes after takeoff and three minutes after the first missile detonated, the report said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Iran to provide justice and transparency to the victims and their families.

In December, Iran pledged to pay $150,000 to each family that lost someone on the plane, but the offer was rejected by Ralph Goodale, the former Liberal public safety minister who was named Canada’s special adviser on the response to the crash.

He said Iran doesn’t have the right to offer compensation to victims’ families unilaterally and that the final amount will be subject to negotiations between Iran and Canada and the four other countries whose citizens were killed on the plane.

Trudeau has promised Canada will offer a pathway to permanent residency for some family members, while those already here could apply to stay if needed. He also designated Jan. 8 as the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters.

The federal government also said scholarships would be set up in memory of the victims.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2021.

Transportation Safety Board

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

Just Posted

Matthew Balogh was last seen in Abbotsford on Sunday, April 18 at 10 a.m.
Police seek help in locating missing 17-year-old in Abbotsford

Matthew Balogh was last seen at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 18

Michael Colmant, a former manager of Abbotsford International Airport, was killed in a hit-and-run in Washington state while he was riding his bicycle.
Abbotsford man dies in hit-and-run while cycling in Washington

Seattle police still searching for driver of vehicle that killed Michael Colmant

Sasquatch Days typically takes place in May but has been canceled the past two years due to COVID-19. The Sts’ailes First Nation recently announced this year’s cancelation. (Photo/Tourism Harrison)
2021 Sasquatch Days canceled due to COVID-19

Second year in a row the pandemic canceled this event

..
Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
IIO investigating after man seriously injured by police dog during Abbotsford arrest

Independent Investigations Office looking into incident from March 6 in 3700 block of Davie Street

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Former B.C. premier says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

Clark testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Surrey RCMP reunited three stolen puppies with their mom. (RCMP handout)
Puppies stolen from South Surrey home located, reunited with mom

Surrey RCMP said they found the stolen puppies on April 16

A woman is vaccinated at a Maple Ridge clinic. (Black Press files)
Fraser Health providing priority AZ immunization for people 40+ in COVID hotpots

Six Surrey neighbourhoods, North Delta, PoCo, South Langley Township, and West Abbotsford targeted

The city asking the public if they want to pursue legal action against the province and their decision to override the city on the Victory Church issue. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton to sue province over homeless shelter

City council voted unanimously to go forward with legal action

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cash seized in a 2018 RCMP drug bust in the Lower Mainland. (Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP-led drug investigation nets charges for 4 in Lower Mainland

Cops seized 12 kilograms of MDMA and $380K executing several search warrants in the Lower Mainland in 2018

Most Read