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Iran to turn Ukrainian 737 black boxes over to European investigators

written by Sandy Milne | June 23, 2020

A commemoration to the passengers aboard flight PS572, held at Kiev’s Boryspil International Airport (Wikicommons)

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced plans to turn flight recorders recovered from a downed Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight over to French authorities.

Iranian forces shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane on 8 January, making what Tehran called a “disastrous mistake” as tensions flared with the US. All 176 people on board flight PS752 lost their lives.

Minister Zarif made the comments in a phone call with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne, contradicting earlier statements that the recorders would be handed over to Ukrainian officials. On his part, Minister Champagne has been vocal in his calls for Iran to compensate the families of victims.

The claim was subsequently verified by his ministry, which stated that “a decision has been made regarding the sending of the [recorders], which will be implemented soon”. The ministry also added that Iran looks to “resolve legal issues and discuss how to compensate the families”.

France’s Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents (BEA) is broadly recognised as one of the leading agencies worldwide for recovering black box data, and has taken an intermediary role in several high-profile crashes.

In the wake of the 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 – which sparked the grounding of the 737 MAX – flight data recorders were sent off to the agency’s Parisian headquarters for analysis.

Iranian officials also said that its probe of the incident, led by the country’s Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) has been hampered by the coronavirus outbreak.


Radio Free Europe reported that the victims included 82 Iranian citizens and 63 Canadians, many of them of Iranian origin.

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