Jul 12, 2020 13:35 UTC
  • Ukraine plane downed due to radar operator's error: Iran Civil Aviation Organization

The Civil Aviation Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (CAO.IRI) says the mismanagement of an air defense unit’s radar system by it's operator was the key "human error" that led to the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in early January.

According to Press TV, in a statement issued late Saturday, the organization said a failure in the mobile air defense system occurred due to a human error in following the procedure for aligning the radar, causing a "107-degree error" in the system.

It added that this error "initiated a chain of hazard," which subsequently led to further errors in the minutes before the plane was shot down including wrong identification of the passenger plane that was mistaken for a military target.

The statement noted that due to radar misalignment, the air defense unit's operator misidentified the passenger plane as a target, which was approaching Tehran from southwest.

With 167 passengers and nine crewmembers on board, Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed outside Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8, moments after takeoff.

Iranian authorities acknowledged that the plane had been downed due to human error at a time when Iran's air defenses were on high alert due to increased hostile American aerial activity in the aftermath of Iran's missile strike on an Iraqi military base, which houses US forces in the West Asian country.

The missile strike came after terrorist American forces martyred Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), along with his companions, outside Baghdad International Airport on direct order from US President Donald Trump.

Elsewhere in the CAO's document, which is not the final report on the accident investigation, the body said the first of the two missiles launched at the aircraft was fired by an air defense unit operator who had acted "without receiving any response from the Coordination Center" on which he depended.

According to the report, the second missile was fired 30 seconds later after the air defense unit's operator "observed that the detected target was continuing on its flight trajectory."

The military prosecutor for Tehran Province, Gholamabbas Torkisaid, said late last month that the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane was the result of human error on the part of the air defense unit’s operator, ruling out the possibility of a cyberattack or any other type of sabotage.

He added that a mobile air defense unit was responsible for the shooting down, because its operator had failed to determine the direction of north correctly and, as such, identified the aircraft as a target, which was approaching Tehran from southwest.