Iran says 'human error' resulted in downing of Ukrainian jet

Iran's civil aviation authority says “human error” is reason for passenger jet being shot down in January 2020.

Tags: Ukraine Iran
Elad Benari ,

Ukraine International Airlines airplane
Ukraine International Airlines airplane

Iran's civil aviation authority is blaming “human error” as the reason for a passenger jet being shot down by the Iranian military in January 2020, The Canadian Press reported on Wednesday.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard fired two missiles at Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after it took off from Tehran on January 8 last year, killing all 176 aboard. The agency's final report into the crash said “the aircraft was misidentified as a hostile target by an air defense unit.”

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.

Victims aboard the Ukrainian plane included citizens of Canada, Sweden, the U.K, Afghanistan and Ukraine. Out of 176 on board, 57 were Canadians. Many of the passengers were scheduled to catch a connecting flight to Toronto.

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 center to the apparent threat, “but the message was never relayed,” the report states.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra on Wednesday 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 quoted by The Canadian Press.

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