Iran: Pilots were alive after missile hit Ukrainian plane

Iranian officials report on results of analysis of black boxes of Ukrainian airliner which was downed by Tehran.

Tags: Ukraine Iran
Ben Ariel ,

Ukraine International Airlines airplane
Ukraine International Airlines airplane

The black boxes of a Ukrainian airliner which was downed in Tehran this past January have revealed the pilots were still alive after the first of two missiles hit the plane, Iranian officials said Sunday, according to AFP.

The Boeing 737, bound for Kiev, was hit by two ground-to-air missiles and crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8. All 176 aboard were killed.

Iran initially denied having anything to do with the crash, but US officials said early on that the plane had been shot down by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iran later admitted that it had made a mistake and shot the Ukrainian plane after it flew too close to a sensitive military site and failed to respond to signals.

The crash came shortly after Iran fired ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq that house US forces in retaliation for the US eliminating top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

The head of Iran's civil aviation authority on Sunday revealed for the first time what was on the black boxes, which had been sent to France for analysis.

Touraj Dehghani Zanganeh said that the cockpit voice recorder registered a conversation between the pilot, co-pilot and an instructor between the two blasts.

"Up to 19 seconds after the first missile exploded in the vicinity of the aircraft, (they) noticed abnormal conditions and were in control of the aircraft until the last moment," he said, according to AFP.

"The instructor indicates that the aircraft has an electronic problem and the auxiliary power has been activated," he added. "The pilots were notified that both engines of the aircraft were on."

The black boxes stopped working 19 seconds after the first explosion, making it impossible to retrieve data on the impact of the second missile, said Zanganeh.

Analysis on the "effect of the second missile cannot be obtained from the black boxes," he added.

Iran, which has no means of decoding the black boxes, sent them to France for analysis in mid-July, nearly six months after the disaster.

Sweden said last month that Iran had agreed to compensate the families of the victims of the crash.