Analysis of black box data recovered from the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737 downed by Iran in January found that passengers and crew survived the first of two ground-to-air missiles to hit the plane, 25 seconds apart.
While the second missile hit the aircraft 25 seconds after the first, only the first 19 seconds of this gap was recorded by the in-flight data recorders, due to damage inflicted on the equipment by the first blast.
The black box recorded the voices of passengers and crew within the aircraft following the first blast, suggesting that there were a number of survivors on board prior to the second missile hitting the airliner.
“Nineteen seconds after the first missile hit the plane, the voices of pilots inside the cockpit indicated that the passengers were alive … 25 seconds later the second missile hit the plane,” head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation Touraj Dehghani-Zanganeh told state media.
“Therefore, no analysis of the performance and effects of the second missile was obtained from the aircraft’s black box.”
Zanganeh also stated that the flight crew on board, including two pilots and an instructor travelling in the cockpit, worked to keep control of the plane as long as they could after the strike.
“The data analysis from the black boxes should not be politicised,” Zanganeh added.
Flight PS752 was shot down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shortly after take-off over Tehran, in an incident labelled by Iranian authorities as a “disastrous mistake” amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US.
All 176 people on board the aircraft were ultimately killed in the incident.
The recent revelation by the Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation marks the first official report into the contents of the in-flight recordings, which were sent to the BEA in France for reading in July.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials are calling for Iran to “reveal the truth” about the incident, stating that the revealed flight recorded data validates Iran’s responsibility for the tragedy.
“The data from flight recorders that Iran has finally decided to reveal – eight months after the incident and a month after being decoded in France – proves what we thought from the beginning,” Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeni Yenin said.
“The plane had no technical problems, the pilots acted according to guidelines and two missiles by [Iran’s] air defence caused its crash although it had permission to fly from military and non-military bodies.”
Kiev is expecting to obtain answers to all of its questions into the matter, as talks between the two countries are due to continue in October, Yenin said, and added: “Iran must reveal the truth, however bitter it may be.”
Ukraine has previously stated it expects maximum compensation to be offered to the families of all victims of the incident by Iran.