An Iranian plane Aseman Airlines ATR-72 crashed on Sunday reportedly killing all the 65 passengers aboard. The airplane was kept grounded for more than seven years and was brought back into service only a couple of months ago.
According to officials, the crash occurred in the mountainous, foggy region of southern Iran. The ATR-72 was a twin-engine turboprop which was restrictively used only for short-distance local or regional flying. The plane crashed near the southern city of Yasuj, 485 to the south of the capital city of Tehran. The flight was to land in Yasuj so was very near to its destination when it went down.
Iran Faces Another Major Aviation Disaster
The crash of ATR-72 is one more addition to the series of major fatal aviation disasters the country has been facing for some time now. It is a well-known fact that for years, Iran was prohibited from fulfilling its requirement for necessary parts due to Western sanctions who were opposed to contesting its nuclear program.
The nuclear accord of Iran with powerful countries in the world now allows it to purchase necessary parts of the airplane. Recently, the country also made deals of $10 billion for new aircraft. However, the President of the U.S., Donald Trump has refused to recertify this deal which has put this sales deal into uncertainty and the Iranians have been forced to continue flying their aging aircraft.
The cause of the crash was not known immediately however, severe weather can be one of the reasons as, at the time of the crash fog, heavy snow and high winds had created an unpredictable atmosphere around the Zagros Mountains making it impossible for the rescue crews in the helicopters to reach the site of the disaster. Locals described hearing the crash but no one could reach the site due to bad weather conditions.
Aseman Airlines Reports Death Of All On Board People Flight EP3704
According to Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai, Aseman Airlines spokesman, all on board flight EP3704 were killed which include 59 passengers and six crew members taking the figure to 65 as against 66 people earlier reported to be killed in the crash. Tabatabai said that after searching the area, the team learned that unfortunately, all the dear passengers had lost their lives.
The President of Iran Hassan Rauhani and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has offered condolences. According to the spokesman, the Mount Dena where the plane crashed has a height of 4,400 meters and its last signal at 0555 GMT showed that it was positioned at 16,975 feet and descending and that the pilot of the airplane was in contact with the tower 14 miles from the airport.
EU Has Banned Aseman Over Safety Concerns
Aseman Airlines is owned by the civil service pension foundation of Iran and is a semi-private air carrier with headquarters in Tehran. The organization specialized in flights to remote airfields across the country as well as internationally. Aseman Airlines is the third largest airline by the fleet size of Iran behind the state carrier Iran Air and Mahan Air. It should be noted that the European Union has banned the foundation from flying over safety concerns.
According to report, the carrier has a fleet of 29 aircraft which includes six ATR aircraft. The ATR-72 airplane crashing on Sunday had a tail number of EP-ATS and was built in 1993 according to CEO of Aseman Airlines Ali Abedzadeh. The foundation posted in October that the door aircraft was repaired and would be operational after checking and testing.
The post did not provide any insight as to what led to the grounding of the aircraft. It should be noted that only recently Iran regained its access to the parts of the airplane after it signed the nuclear deal. With decades of international sanctions pending the commercial passenger aircraft fleet of Iran seems to have aged with air accidents becoming quite a regular in the last few years.