Tehran, 19 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Iranian authorities have reversed their Saturday decision to send the two black box flight recorders from the downed Ukrainian passenger plane to Kiev for examination, saying the damaged devices will remain in Iran.
“The flight recorders are in Iran and shall not as of yet be handed over to anyone,” aviation authority spokesman Hassan Rezaeifar said on Sunday, according to state news agency IRNA.
Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard accidentally shot down a Ukraine International Airlines flight shortly after it took off from Tehran on January 8, killing 176 people on board.
The plane was shot down just hours after Iranian forces fired missiles at bases in Iraq used by US military forces – an act of retaliation for the killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike in Baghdad. Iranian authorities said they were bracing for a counterstrike from the US and mistook the plane as a threat.
Rezaeifar said the inspection of the heavily damaged recorders will take place in the country and will only be sent to Ukraine or France if the evaluation was not technically possible.
“But nothing has been decided in that respect,” Rezaeifar added.
One day earlier, the same spokesman said the inspection of the recorders from the plane’s cockpit could not be carried out in Iran because authorities there did not have the necessary software for downloading the data. For that reason, the recorders would be sent to Ukraine or France, if necessary, Rezaeifar said at the time.
It remained unclear why the Iranian aviation authority reversed that decision.