COVID-19 delays the analysis of Flight PS752's black boxes

UR-PSR, the aircraft involved in the incident, in October 2019. Photo by Chris de Breun | AeroNewsX

Canada and other countries have asked Iranian officials to delay the downloading of data on the black boxes from the downed Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. The decision is due to restrictions imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19, which makes it difficult for experts to arrive. Back in March, Iran agreed to hand over black boxes from Flight 752 to Ukraine or France for analysis, a move welcomed by Canada and Ukraine. The boxes should contain information about the last moments before a missile struck the 737-800, and the airliner crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport(OIIE/IKA) on January 8, 2020. Just a week prior, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada(TSB) revealed that Iran contacted the participating countries and asked when they could send experts to help download the data of the black boxes. The flight was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members on board. 2 passengers and the crew members were Ukrainians, 82 citizens of Iran, 63 citizens of Canada, 10 citizens of Sweden, 4 citizens of Afghanistan and 3 citizens of Germany and the United Kingdom each. There were no survivors. On January 11, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani officially admitted that the Ukrainian airliner had been shot down by accident as a result of a "human error" and that those responsible would be held accountable. On February 2, intercepted communications between Tehran Airport's air traffic control tower and a pilot of Iran's Aseman Airlines flight at the time of the crash of flight PS752 were leaked. Tehran blamed the Ukrainian authorities for leaking what it described as confidential evidence and said it would no longer share investigation materials with Ukraine. On February 14, the Iranian Foreign Minister said Iran did not plan to hand the black boxes over but it would not decrypt their data without the participation of the parties concerned. While emphasized that the concerned countries are “anxious for the download and analysis of the recorders to proceed,” TSB president Kathy Fox said that they all “provided a consistent response, suggesting that traveling was impossible at this time and likely for some time to come” due to restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada added that representatives from the participating countries should be present when the black box data is downloaded and that the process should, therefore, be postponed until “conditions improve enough to allow for safe travel. We still expect Iran will carry through with its commitment to have the recorders downloaded” once conditions improve, Fox said.

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