Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Another Plane Crash

Shervin Omidvar, Rooz Online:
The crash of a Falcon jet plane yesterday near Orumieh belonging to the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps killed the commander of the force’s army and at least another 10 people on board. This is the second military air disaster in recent weeks in Iran. The plane belonged to the Passdaran and was routinely used as a military transport.

When asked whether sabotage may have been the cause of the crash, Rahim Safavi the commander of the Passdaran said, “Such a possibility has not been raised at this time, unless the technical team investigating the crash says otherwise.” Air industry experts ruled out the initial official explanation for the crash and said that the aircraft could not have run out of fuel as its tanks enabled it to fly over 3,300 kilometers.

Different versions as to the cause of the crash have been reported, which have added to the mystery and create a skeptical atmosphere. READ MORE

A Passdaran official had initially said that the pilot had reported technical problems in opening his landing gear. The pilot, who was himself a commander of a Passdaran air base in Tehran and an aircraft trainer, had later announced that both engines of the plane had died out. About the number of people on board too different figures have been cited. Initially it was announced there were 15 people on board, then the figure was reduced to 13, and then even 12. The press office of the Passdaran’s official announcement put the number at 11 people. Savafi explained the discrepancy to be because all those who were on the flight list had not been on the flight.

The plan was flying from Tehran to Orumieh and crashed not far from its destination airport. Witnesses had reported that the plane circled Orumieh airport twice before crashing into a field nearby after failing to open its landing gear and when both its engines died out, presumably because the plane ran out of fuel.

Safavi also said that the plane had not caught fire and that the bodies of all onboard were recovered intact. He also said that Passdaran’s air force had some 200 fixed winged aircraft and helicopters in its fleet and so its standards of operation were of international standards.

Iran’s air safety record has dropped dramatically in recent years with many crashed of planes belonging to the military, the air force, and the Passdaran, and none have been fully explained to the public.