Iran Invites NTSB, Boeing to Participate in Ukrainian Plane Crash Investigation

Iran has invited the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. accident investigation agency, to participate in the probe of the Ukrainian Boeing commercial jetliner that crashed near Tehran earlier this week. The NTSB said in a statement Thursday it had received “formal notification” about the crash from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran and is sending “an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash.” Iran has also invited Boeing, the U.S. manufacturer of the plane, to be a part of the investigation team. It is not, however, immediately clear what level of participation the two U.S. entities would have in the investigation because of the U.S. sanctions placed on Iran and the heightened tensions between the two countries. Ukraine is also taking part in the investigation. The latest development comes as U.S. President Donald Trump publicly voiced suspicion that Iran may have accidentally shot down the Ukrainian airliner. “Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side,” said Trump of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. “Some people say it was mechanical. Personally, I don’t think that’s even a question.” Ballistic missile attack The crash occurred just hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers in response to last week’s U.S. drone attack that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. Iranian officials have maintained the Boeing 737-800, at an altitude of 2,400 meters, suffered a catastrophic engine failure early Wednesday, local time. All 176 people on the plane bound for Kyiv died, including 63 Canadians. Government sources have told VOA that U.S. officials have examined satellite data and imagery leading them to believe the airliner, just after taking off from Tehran, was hit by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile after being targeted accidentally. A U.S. official confirmed to VOA that he is confident the plane was shot down by Iran. “At some point they’ll release the black box. Ideally, they’ll get it to Boeing,” Trump added in remarks to reporters in the White House Roosevelt Room Thursday. Video of the aircraft shows it breaking up in the air in a fireball over Iran. The head of Iran’s of Civil Aviation Organization denies the plane could have been hit by a missile. “Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane and such rumors are illogical,” ISNA quoted Ali Abedzadeh as saying. The New York Times posted video on its website late Thursday that the newspaper identified as “verified video showing the moment a Ukrainian airliner was hit in Iran.” The Times said the video, provided by Maxar Technologies, appeared to show a missile hitting a plane, which did not explode immediately. The Times said the aircraft turned back “toward the airport ablaze before it exploded.” Canada and Ukraine The governments of Ukraine and Canada are not accepting the initial assessment by Iran that the cause of the crash appeared to be a mechanical issue. Citing what he called “intelligence from multiple sources,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that “the intelligence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.” Trudeau added, “This may well have been unintentional.” Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, expressed solidarity with Canada. “We, Ukrainians, share the pain that Canadians feel, and the stories that we see on television there are just as heartbreaking to us as the stories about our flight attendants and our pilots that we see on Ukrainian television,” Shevchenko told VOA’s Ukraine service Thursday. “We just feel that we have to walk through this pain together.” Asked if Trudeau’s announcement would hinder the investigation, Shevchenko said he wouldn’t speculate. “I wouldn’t speculate on the reasons of the crash either,” he said, “but I would say that it is in the everyone’s interest, including Iran, to have very good, transparent and genuine investigation into this tragedy. I think that truth and only truth is something that can get us moving forward.” Sixty-three of the crash victims were from Canada, which has more than 200,000 citizens of Iranian descent. It is also popular with Iranian students. “I’m glad that Prime Minister Trudeau is taking this so seriously, but I was saddened and angry that the evidence points to an Iranian missile being responsible for the crash,” Avideh Montmaen-Far, president of the Council of Iranian Canadians, told VOA’s Persian service. “I hope Canada and other international experts will be involved in order to ensure the investigation is thorough, because families of the victims deserve truth and closure,” she said. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, said there were several working theories regarding the crash, including a missile
See all stories on this topic