IRAN BLAMES UKRAINIAN PILOTS FOR AN-140 PLANE CRASH

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IRAN BLAMES UKRAINIAN PILOTS FOR AN-140 PLANE CRASH

Izvestia, January 9, 2003, p. 2 EV

Ukraine and Iran are continuing a dispute over the cause of an AN-140 plane crash on December 23, 2002 not far from Isfahan (Iran), which killed 44 people. Iran’s Deputy Minister of Transportation Ruhoddin Abutalebi claims that the cause of the Ukrainian liner’s crash was pilot error. Nonetheless, Director General of the Kharkiv Aviation Enterprise Pavel Naumenko believes that it is too early to draw final conclusions about whose fault it was.

The Iranian transport official stressed that this is only a preliminary conclusion, the final one to follow after the flight recorder data are examined. Both flight recorders storing such data as the plane’s height, speed and more, have already been dispatched to Ukraine to be examined by experts of the factory where the plane was constructed. However, the Iranian official was indignant at allegations in some newspapers that a possible cause of the accident might have been mistakes by Iranian ground services and heavy air traffic.

Mr. Abutalebi refers to commentaries previously issued by the Ukrainian minister of transportation and his private talks with Ukrainian representatives who, in his words, “expressed satisfaction with the quality of air traffic control” on the territory of Iran.

Officials with the Kharkiv Aviation Enterprise do not agree that the crash occurred through the fault of Ukraine-based airline Aeromost. They ask Iran to wait till the flight recorder data are deciphered, according to the plant’s director-general.

In this battle of national ambitions, neither side is disputing the quality of the aircraft: in 1995 Ukraine and Iran signed a contract on launching serial production of AN-140 aircraft in Isfahan. The project provides for construction of eighty planes over twenty years.

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