Sunday, December 18, 2005

Secrets of Military Aircraft Crash

Rooz Online:
Reports from Tehran indicate that a movie camera with anti-shake features most likely belonging to a photo-journalist has been found among the debris of last week’s crash of a C-130 transport aircraft belonging to Iran’s military. If the news is correct, it will shed more light on the causes of the crashes and what was going on during the final moments of the fatal flight. The plane was carrying mostly journalists and some military personnel to the town of Chahbahar port on the Iranian side of the Persian Gulf.

Immediately after the crash of the military aircraft, military and security personnel blocked the streets and alleyways leading to the disaster location. Reports from the crash site state that security and plain-clothes agents immediately arrived at the scene and began harshly confronting the crowds of people and relatives who wanted to look around for survivals and provide assistance to them. Some of the journalists who did not heed to the instructions of the security agents were beaten up.

There have been reports that journalists have said sensitive documents about the crash have disappeared altogether from the scene, and may not even be found in the official files.

It is said that the movie camera equipped with a stabilization system to prevent shakes found in the debris of the plane had clear images of the causes of the air crash and how exactly more than 110 on board lost their lives.

Informed sources say that the camera belonged to one of the journalists and the investigation agents found it on the location. Once the contents of the camera became known, the camera was categorized as “confidential” and was delivered to the Ministry of Intelligence. It appears, according to some sources, that the entire conversation of the captain and the control tower was recorded on this camera. While the army’s investigation committee is reported to hold all the material and items belonging to the aircraft found on the site, military commanders refute such reports and claim that the last parts of the conversations are actually in the plane’s black box. From reports that have been gathered, the last cries and pleas of the trapped passengers are said to be calls for the second Shiite Imam (Hussein), which is a normal response at times of crises. READ MORE

Other sporadic news indicates that two days before the disaster, the aircraft’s captain had planned to go on vacation with his family since his missions had ended. According to these reports, he was asked to fly the doomed C-130 after the pilot of the plane refused to fly the aircraft because of its technical problems that he had become aware of.

In an interview with reporters, family members of the killed pilot said that the killed pilot received a call at his house in the morning of the air crash, (and not later during the day as recounted by others) to fly the plane to Chahbahar. Military officials stick to their story that there were no plans to change the pilot of the aircraft at any time and that the pilot who was killed was the only designated pilot to fly that aircraft at that time all along.

The Majlis (Parliament) has already begun its own investigation into the air crash and there have been calls to impeach the Minister of Defence for his negligence in the crash that killed 128 people.

The military which is also investigating the crash announced late last week that it would produce its report over the December 6 air disaster within a week, an unusual feat in view of similar events in the past.