Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of a Ukrainian plane crash in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday, just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital’s main airport, turning farmland on the outskirts of Tehran into fields of flaming debris and killing all on board. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Last night was full of drama. Iran let off contemptible and laughable Potemkin attacks on two facilities that housed a small number of US personnel (the installation with the most US personnel, Balad airbase, was not hit)
#BREAKING: Operation #Soleimani = Propaganda!#IRGC just wanted to raise morale of its personnel tonight! According to spokesman of #CENTCOM, #IRGC|ASF launched 10 (Fateh-313) missiles at Ain al-Asad without causing any harm to anyone & 5 (Qiam-1) at #Erbil among them 4 are lost! pic.twitter.com/MybSWsEPJm
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) January 8, 2020
Then, victory celebrations, led by regime thugs, spontaneously broke out
#BREAKING: While #IRGC Aerospace Force has failed to even harm a single #US Serviceman in Ain Al-Asad AB & #Erbil in #Iraq, the propaganda units of #IRGC Ground Force are now playing marsh of victory in streets of various cities of #Iran including #Shiraz in this video👇 pic.twitter.com/Je7IiFyioo
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) January 8, 2020
There were no casualties in the area targeted by Iran…that is probably intentional…but there were casualties.
A Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 with 176 people on board has crashed in Iran, and officials say there is no chance of finding survivors.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 to Kyiv went down just minutes after taking off from Tehran’s airport at 06:12 local time (02:42 GMT).
The majority of passengers were from Iran and Canada.
Ukraine’s Tehran embassy initially blamed engine failure but later removed the statement.
The wreckage had hardly stopped bouncing when Iran blamed mechanical failure. This excuse was made without benefit of investigation or even access to the ‘black boxes’ which Iran now refuses to turn over. READ: Iran Refuses to Give Black Box of Downed Jetliner to Boeing Amid Suspicions of Missile Attacks
More and more, though, the crash of PS752 is looking like a shootdown.
For instance, these are the tracks for the aircraft from takeoff until it disappeared from radar
The Track log for Ukraine Airline 752 shows a flight of about 2 minutes before end of tracked messages.
The plane was climbing above 2240m at and accelerating beyond 513kmh when it stopped giving ADB messages. Suspect this is NOT a technical problem. pic.twitter.com/cgI5zNJn0u
— Jean-François Mezei (@jfmezei) January 8, 2020
There was no MAYDAY call from the aircraft. Everything was routine until the plane disappeared from radar and reappeared on the ground. And (h/t to Brandon’s excellent article) there is more evidence that says this was no accident.
The data from their ADS-B disputes this.
An engine failure/fire wouldn’t allow this plane to continue climbing at 2800’/minute at 318 mph…
They’re lying. pic.twitter.com/YJx3iNTAYG
— Pierre Dillecto (@TheGreenNewDill) January 8, 2020
– If there was an engine fire the plane would’ve slowed down, and the pilots would’ve made their way back to the airport. It kept climbing.
– Fire suppression systems would’ve prevented the plane from turning into a ball of fire.
– Shrapnel damage on wings & fuselage. pic.twitter.com/q0lhwhjNYu
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 8, 2020
Read more at the pilot blog Professional Pilots Rumor Network.
Then, other events happened that cast even more doubt on the official narrative. Ukraine halted all flights to Iran…not an action associated with a crash from mechanical difficulties. Other major airlines have followed suit:
Major international airlines are canceling and re-routing flights in the Middle East after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi military bases that house US forces.
Air France (AFLYY), Lufthansa (DLAKY), Malaysia Airlines and Taiwan’s EVA Air said they were avoiding the airspace above Iran and Iraq. Singapore Airlines (SINGF) said it would not fly over Iran.
The Federal Aviation Agency meanwhile restricted commercial US flights “from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.” Authorities in Russia recommended the country’s airlines avoid the same areas.
Now, many aviation experts are weighing in and calling the PS752 crash a ‘shootdown event.’ The aviation risk management group, OPSGROUP, has concluded that crash site imagery is consistent with a missile shootdown and that aviation carriers should proceed under that assumption until an investigation proves otherwise.
Purely from the perspective of making a risk assessment for operations to Tehran, and Iran in general, however, 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.
Images seen by OPSGROUP, shown below, show obvious projectile holes in the fuselage and a wing section. Whether that projectile was an engine part, or a missile fragment is still conjecture, but in making a decision as to whether to operate to Iran, erring on the side of caution would dictate that you do not, until there is clear information as to the cause.
Iran plane crash most likely a ‘shootdown event’, aviation experts say https://t.co/9mSa13aIO8
— The Independent (@Independent) January 8, 2020
— Dr Tammi (@maNkomo16) January 8, 2020
Photos of the downed Boeing 737 in Iran. OPS, an aviation safety group, says the holes circled in yellow are consistent with projectile damage indicating a 'shootdown event'https://t.co/NS4mdJf5bo pic.twitter.com/9dtbp2n17A
— Tuunbaq Tuunbaq Tuun (@CarlOrtonsen) January 8, 2020
Several Iran-obedient outlets are calling the images debunked based,
Not sure this article is very helpful given the pictures it uses have already been debunked https://t.co/ABnL7xcQ7Y
— Chris York (@ChrisDYork) January 8, 2020
as far as I can tell, on this tweet
I really have to stress this, we saw the same thing happen with MH17, mud and rocks in low resolution photographs being wrongly identified as shrapnel damage, led some people to make early, faulty, conclusions about the wreckage, and the same is happening here. https://t.co/XkeV7CKbTs
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) January 8, 2020
No word on who this group is using as their aviation experts…and MH-17 was brought down by an antiaircraft missile, so that may not be your best example.
In summary, we have an aircraft incident that has all the hallmarks of one of two causes: an in-flight bomb or an anti-aircraft missile. Any mechanical failure would have resulted in time for the crew to radio a distress call. A mechanical failure that resulted in a crash would not produce the flight profile that we are currently provided with. Moreover, no one can come up with a mechanical failure that matches the facts as they exist.
It isn’t hard to see how this happened. Iranian air defense forces were undoubtedly on a high state of alert because of the game of silly buggers that the mullahs were playing with the United States. There was probably an assumption that the missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing US personnel would provoke a US attack on Iranian targets. At some point, someone decided that the Ukraine 737 was a hostile target and engaged it. This happens (see my post on the shootdown of Iran Air 655 by the USS Vincennes) when bad things begin to cascade and people on the ground start making the data conform to their perceptions.
The biggest tell that this was a missile strike and not an equipment failure is that Iran is refusing to let anyone look at the black boxes. Even though Iran, under international treaty, has responsibility for investigating the crash and has primary possession of the black boxes, Boeing and Ukraine are entitled to the data. The Iranians aren’t going to release that data or do an internationally sanctioned investigation for a very good reason, they shot this plane down.