Iran has retrieved some data, including a portion of cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian plane accidentally downed by Revolutionary Guard forces in January, killing all 176 people on board, an Iranian official has said.
A report on the website of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation described the official’s remarks as part of the final report that Tehran plans to issue on the shootdown.
Authorities had initially denied responsibility for the January 8 incident near Tehran, only changing course days later after western nations presented extensive evidence that Iran had shot down the plane.
The shootdown happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting US soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone strike that killed Guard General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
Captain Touraj Dehghani Zangeneh, head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation, said the Ukrainian passenger plane’s black boxes have only 19 seconds of conversation following the first explosion, though the second missile reached the plane 25 seconds later. The report quoting him did not elaborate.
He said the first missile explosion sent shrapnel into the plane, likely disrupting the plane’s recorders.
Representatives from the US, Ukraine, France, Canada, Britain and Sweden — countries whose citizens were killed in the crash — were present during the process to gather data from the recorders.
Last month, an initial report from the Iranian investigation said a misaligned missile battery, miscommunication between troops and their commanders and a decision to fire without authorisation all led to the fatal downing of the jetliner.
“Data recovery activity was all done with the aim of safety and preventing similar incidents,” Mr Zangeneh said, adding an appeal against “any political use of the process”.
He added that Iran’s airspace is now “safe and ready” for international flights.