In this Jan. 8, 2020 file photo, rescue workers search the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of Tehran, Iran. Iranian investigators blamed a misaligned missile battery and miscommunication between soldiers and their commanders for the Revolutionary Guard shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner in January, killing 176 people. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

In this Jan. 8, 2020 file photo, rescue workers search the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of Tehran, Iran. Iranian investigators blamed a misaligned missile battery and miscommunication between soldiers and their commanders for the Revolutionary Guard shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner in January, killing 176 people. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Flight PS752 shot down after being ‘misidentified’ as ‘hostile target,’ Iran’s final report says

Trudeau has promised Canada will offer a pathway to permanent residency for some family members

Iran’s civil aviation authority is blaming “human error” as the reason why a passenger jet was shot down by the Iranian military in January 2020, outlining its findings in a report the Canadian federal government rejected Wednesday as insufficient.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard fired two missiles at Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after it took off from Tehran on Jan. 8 last year, when “the aircraft was misidentified as a hostile target by an air defence unit,” says the agency’s final report into the crash.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra largely dismissed the 145-page document, which was posted to the website of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization.

“The report makes no attempt to answer critical questions about what truly happened. It appears incomplete and has no hard facts or evidence,” the ministers said in a statement.

“We remain deeply concerned about the lack of convincing information and evidence, despite the publication of this investigation report.”

The government is continuing to call for a “comprehensive and transparent” investigation conducted according to international standards.

Under international civil aviation law, the Iranian government led the investigation.

The report, which Canada’s Transportation Safety Board says it will comment on at a news conference scheduled for Thursday, echoes what the Iranian military said last year: human error caused the tragedy — an explanation found wanting by multiple countries that lost citizens.

Iran initially denied responsibility for the crash, but three days later said the Kyiv-bound Boeing 737-800 was shot down by accident after being mistaken for a missile amid heightened tensions with the United States. The admission came after video footage on social media appeared to show at least one missile striking the jet.

The disaster unfolded after Iran launched missiles into Iraq at two American military bases in retaliation for the U.S. having killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad airport by order of then-U.S. president Donald Trump.

All 176 people on board the jetliner were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and dozens of others bound for Canada.

“Their families deserve answers to important questions, including on the series of events that led to these missiles being launched in the first place, and why the airspace was allowed to remain open during a period of heightened hostilities,” Garneau and Alghabra said in their joint statement.

Britain, Ukraine Afghanistan and Sweden also lost citizens when the plane was destroyed, and the countries formed a coalition with Canada to deal with Iran.

A series of mistakes led to the fatal missile launch, the Iranian investigation team found.

An incorrect read on the plane’s flight direction due to “human error” caused an operator to perceive the aircraft as flying northeast toward Tehran at a low altitude, rather than flying west away from the main airport, which it was.

The operator tried to alert the command centre to the apparent threat, “but the message was never relayed,” the report states.

“Without receiving a go-ahead or response from the command centre, he came to identify the target as a hostile one and fired missile (sic) at the aircraft against the procedure planned.”

The first warhead exploded near the aircraft, hurling more than 2,500 pieces of shrapnel toward it at nearly 6,500 km/h — more than five times the speed of sound — damaging the plane and aircraft systems but leaving its structural integrity intact, according to the report.

“(T)he three cockpit crew members were all still alive. They appeared to have sustained no physical injuries.”

The second missile “likely” did affect the aircraft, but the plane plummeted to the ground regardless, crashing near the airport and exploding on impact six minutes after takeoff and three minutes after the first missile detonated, the report said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Iran to provide justice and transparency to the victims and their families.

In December, Iran pledged to pay $150,000 to each family that lost someone on the plane, but the offer was rejected by Ralph Goodale, the former Liberal public safety minister who was named Canada’s special adviser on the response to the crash.

He said Iran doesn’t have the right to offer compensation to victims’ families unilaterally and that the final amount will be subject to negotiations between Iran and Canada and the four other countries whose citizens were killed on the plane.

Trudeau has promised Canada will offer a pathway to permanent residency for some family members, while those already here could apply to stay if needed. He also designated Jan. 8 as the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters.

The federal government also said scholarships would be set up in memory of the victims.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2021.

Transportation Safety Board

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Supporters gather during a rally against measures taken by government and health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the Whistle Stop cafe in Mirror Alta, on Saturday May 8, 2021. The Whistle Stop was shut down by AHS for not complying with COVID-19 rules. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Police hand out tickets to dozens leaving anti-lockdown protest in Alberta

Hundreds gathered outside the Whistle Stop Café in the hamlet of Mirror, Alta.

Learning Centre
Staff at the Stettler Learning Centre have been ‘hitting the road’ locally

The goal of the ‘Roadshow’ is to better connect with the Stettler and area community

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Alberta leads the Prairie provinces in being the first to take COVID-19 vaccine bookings for pre-teens. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta leads Prairie provinces in accepting COVID vaccine bookings for pre-teens

The province begins accepting appointments for kids as young as 12 starting today

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine can be given to adults 30+ who can’t wait for mRNA: NACI

Panel says single shot vaccine can be especially useful for populations unable to return for second shot

File photo
Arrest made for armed robbery in Millet, Wetaskiwin RCMP continue to investigate

Wetaskiwin RCMP are investigating an armed robbery took place May 4, 2021 in Millet, Alta.

Dr. Karina Pillay, former mayor of Slave Lake, Alta., is shown at her medical clinic in Calgary on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
10 years later: Former Slave Lake mayor remembers wildfire that burned through town

Alberta announced in 2011 that an unknown arsonist had recklessly or deliberately ignited the forest fire

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman travelling from Alberta found dead in B.C. park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel’s approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

Wolf density in Jasper is low enough that the animals would not be expected to be a major threat

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

Most Read