March 18, 2021 By Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canada’s Transportation Safety Board says a report from Iran on the downing of a passenger jet by its military in January 2020 doesn’t explain why the tragedy happened.
Board chair Kathy Fox says the final report does not include a detailed explanation or evidence about the underlying factors that caused Iran’s military to fire two surface-to-air missiles at Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.
All 176 people on board the jetliner were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and dozens of others bound for Canada.
Fox says the TSB, Canada’s air-safety investigator, does not believe the results from the review will reduce the risk to commercial airlines operating in Iran’s airspace.
It is unusual for the TSB to comment on the results of a report into an incident that took place in another country. Under international civil aviation rules, the country where the incident took place is in charge of the investigation.
But Fox says the “unprecedented situation” where the Iranian military effectively oversaw the investigation, the agency felt it had to speak out about its concerns with the final report.
The final report from Iran’s civil aviation body blamed “human error” as the reason why the Revolutionary Guard shot down the jetliner minutes after it took off from Tehran on Jan. 8 last year.
The Canadian government has rejected the report outright, describing it as “incomplete” and devoid of “hard facts or evidence.”
Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said an operator fired two surface-to-air missiles after misidentifying the Boeing 737-800 as a “hostile target” and despite not getting a green light from superiors, per procedure.
Fox says Iran has not provided evidence to support the scenario, noting it is “a plausible explanation for what happened.”
A group representing families of the victims also dismissed the report findings as riddled with inconsistencies and “fabrications” that are “grossly inadequate” to explain the shootdown.
Iran initially denied responsibility for the crash, but three days later said the Kyiv-bound aircraft 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 hours 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.
Fox says the report only partially explains why the airspace remained open and active for commercial airlines after the military action.
“It does not explain any of the underlying factors behind why the missiles were launched at PS752, the stated cause of this tragedy,” Fox says.
“In short, the report says what happened, but doesn’t address the why.”
Ralph Goodale, the former Liberal public safety minister who was named Canada’s special adviser on the response to the crash, called the report unconvincing, “shambolic” and “insulting” to loved ones.
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, demanding reparations and a more transparent report.