***Update: 01/08/2020 @ 11:29 UTC: Statement from Boeing***
Breaking news coming out of Tehran as a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 has crashed shortly after takeoff. Flight 752 was bound for Kyiv Boryspil when the aircraft went down near Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.
PS752 crashed after takeoff
CNN reports that 167 passengers were on board at the time of the flight. In addition to this, nine crew members were on the plane. There are thought to be no survivors.
According to the report, the passengers included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians. There were also 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British people on board the aircraft.
Speculation has been rife that the aircraft may have been shot down, either on purpose or in error, amid the escalating geopolitical tensions in the area. The Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran initially said that a terror attack was ruled out, and that the cause of the crash was an engine failure. However, it later replaced this statement with one saying that the cause is ‘being clarified’:
“Information on the causes of the plane crash is being clarified by the commission. Any statements regarding the causes of the accident prior to the decision of said commission are not official.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned against speculation, saying that the nation was sending emergency aircraft to the area. He said,
“I ask everyone to keep from speculating and putting forth unconfirmed theories about the crash … We have prepared emergency planes to send to Tehran … to fly out the bodies of the victims, we are waiting a confirmation by Iran for their departure.”
Only six minutes into the flight
We are following reports that a Ukrainian 737-800 has crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran. #PS752 departed Tehran at 02:42UTC. Last ADS-B data received at 02:44UTC. https://t.co/qXWHUPGDTu pic.twitter.com/vuAi6TOqTp
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) January 8, 2020
Images and video from the crash show a horrific scene.
Pictures of what’s left of the Ukrainian plane’s wreckage, nothing much, according to Iranian media it’s very unlikely that anyone survived pic.twitter.com/4p81eRfJRW
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) January 8, 2020
The aircraft was scheduled to depart from Tehran at 05:15 local time. However, the aircraft did not become airborne until 06:12 local time.
Further data indicates that the aircraft’s speed leveled off at around 275 knots before going off radar. The aircraft, however, continued to gain altitude. The Boeing 737-800 went down only six minutes after takeoff.
A statement from Boeing reads:
This is a tragic event and our heartfelt thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and stand by them in this difficult time. We are ready to assist in any way needed.
PS752 is a regularly scheduled flight connecting Iran’s capital, Tehran, to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. The flight operates five times per week.
The Ukraine International Airlines aircraft
The aircraft involved in this incident was registered as UR-PSR. Data from Planespotters indicates that the aircraft is just over 3 years old. Furthermore, the data indicates that this is a leased aircraft that has only flown for Ukraine International Airlines. UR-PSR is also a frequent aircraft operating this route. The plane previously flew between Tehran and Kyiv on UIA on January 3rd, 4th, and 6th before operating this flight on January 8th, 2020.
Boeing 737s are a major part of Ukraine International’s narrowbody fleet. In addition to the -800 variant, UIA also flies the larger 737-900. In terms of widebody aircraft, UIA also flies Boeing 767-300ERs and Boeing 777-200ERs.
This crash comes at an unfortunately tense geopolitical moment. Involved in this incident was a Boeing 737-800. Generally, the American manufacturer would be able to assist the investigatory team in the investigation. However, given the current tensions between the United States and Iran, it is unclear if Boeing will provide any support to the investigatory team. No details have come out about how this investigation will be done.
As one of the most popular narrowbody aircraft out there, this investigation will be watched closely around the world. And, the last thing Boeing needs is a hidden issue with 737NG aircraft. However, it is important to note that as of now, very little information has surfaced as to what led to this crash.
The thoughts and condolences of the entire Simple Flying team are with those affected by this horrific crash.
This is a breaking story. Simple Flying will provide updates to this story.