Ukraine airliner crashes shortly after takeoff from Tehran just 3+ hours after the launch of missile attack on bases in Iraq

The sole death toll from the skies on the night Iran launched its missiles in retaliation for the killing of terror master Soleimani came as an airliner crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran, killing a reported 176 souls.

Do you believe in coincidences?  Do most Iranians?  Surely, the combination of this air disaster with an earthquake near the Bushehr nuclear facility has some Iranians contemplating Allah's will.

The mullahs' government initially blamed the U.S.-built Boeing 737-800 (not the 800 MAX that has been grounded) experiencing technical faults, as Bloomberg reported:

A Boeing Co. 737-800 jetliner bound for Ukraine that crashed after takeoff in Iran, killing everyone on board, was most likely brought down by an engine fire, according to Tehran authorities.

Ukraine International Airlines said 167 passengers and nine crew were on the plane (snip)

Iran's Disaster Mitigation and Management Organization said early assessments indicate the cause was a technical issue and the transport ministry suggested a fire was to blame, dismissing speculation that the jet was downed by a stray missile following Iranian strikes against U.S. bases in Iraq.


The same model that crashed, taking off from Israel's Ben Gurion Airport.
Photo credit: Oyoyoy.

The reported timing of the missile attack was more than three hours before the plane crashed.

But Iran has just changed its story on the cause of the crash:

A later statement from the embassy said a commission is investigating the crash and that "any statements about the causes of the accident before the decision of the commission are not official."

One striking fact is that the airplane reportedly was on fire as it crashed, as this video, allegedly of the crash, reveals:

A second striking fact is that plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

A Boeing 737 can fly on one engine, so a flame-out in one engine would not cause a crash.  An initial report indicated it had attained an altitude of 7,900+ feet when it crashed, which rules out a takeoff engine failure crippling it at its most vulnerable moments.  Boeing 737s have suffered catastrophic engine failures without crashing in the past.  So it seems likely that some other cause is in play.  Here are some possibilities:

1. Iranian anti-aircraft fire as an airliner was mistaken for an enemy airplane.  Given the proximity to Tehran, there could well have been an anti-aircraft battery.  Recall that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014,was downed over the Donbass region of Ukraine during the between Ukraine and Russia.  The danger of such misidentification accidents is a major reason why the FAA has banned U.S. airlines from flying over Iraqi and Iranian airspace and many airlines from other countries have suspended flights.

2. A collision with another aircraft, possibly a drone. 

Ilya Kusa, a Ukrainian international affairs expert, said amid the US-Iranian tensions "there were lots of them in the sky" immediately after the rocket attacks.

Russian military pilot Vladimir Popov said: "It could have been an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, which are small in size and poorly visible on radars.

"A plane in a collision could get significant damage and even catch fire in the air."

3. Sabotage, including the possibility that ground personnel at the airport did something to cripple the airplane after takeoff.  Recall that an American Airlines mechanic in Miami named Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani "admitted to federal agents that he tampered with the Boeing 737-800 [the same model that crashed in Tehran] at Miami International Airport on July 17, forcing the plane to be grounded before takeoff, according to court records."

4. A bomb.

In the spirit of "round up the usual suspects," it would not be surprising to see Iranian authorities eventually blaming Israeli agents for the crash.

The investigation of the crash may well be hampered, as the UK Daily Mail reports:
Iran says it has found the plane's black boxes but will not give them to planemaker Boeing or the United States. 

Ali Abedzadeh, the head of Tehran's civil aviation organisation, said it was not clear which country Iran would send the box to so that its data could be analysed.

There were a large number of Canadian citizens onboard the plane.

Breaking down the numbers, officials said there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and three Britons on flight PS752, along with 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans and four Germans. 

Canada is home to a large Iranian diaspora community and UIA offers discount flights between Tehran and Toronto, with a transit in Kiev. 

Iran may be pondering how best to exploit this tragedy.  I would not trust anything the Iranians say about the causes.

The sole death toll from the skies on the night Iran launched its missiles in retaliation for the killing of terror master Soleimani came as an airliner crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran, killing a reported 176 souls.

Do you believe in coincidences?  Do most Iranians?  Surely, the combination of this air disaster with an earthquake near the Bushehr nuclear facility has some Iranians contemplating Allah's will.

The mullahs' government initially blamed the U.S.-built Boeing 737-800 (not the 800 MAX that has been grounded) experiencing technical faults, as Bloomberg reported:

A Boeing Co. 737-800 jetliner bound for Ukraine that crashed after takeoff in Iran, killing everyone on board, was most likely brought down by an engine fire, according to Tehran authorities.

Ukraine International Airlines said 167 passengers and nine crew were on the plane (snip)

Iran's Disaster Mitigation and Management Organization said early assessments indicate the cause was a technical issue and the transport ministry suggested a fire was to blame, dismissing speculation that the jet was downed by a stray missile following Iranian strikes against U.S. bases in Iraq.


The same model that crashed, taking off from Israel's Ben Gurion Airport.
Photo credit: Oyoyoy.

The reported timing of the missile attack was more than three hours before the plane crashed.

But Iran has just changed its story on the cause of the crash:

A later statement from the embassy said a commission is investigating the crash and that "any statements about the causes of the accident before the decision of the commission are not official."

One striking fact is that the airplane reportedly was on fire as it crashed, as this video, allegedly of the crash, reveals:

A second striking fact is that plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

A Boeing 737 can fly on one engine, so a flame-out in one engine would not cause a crash.  An initial report indicated it had attained an altitude of 7,900+ feet when it crashed, which rules out a takeoff engine failure crippling it at its most vulnerable moments.  Boeing 737s have suffered catastrophic engine failures without crashing in the past.  So it seems likely that some other cause is in play.  Here are some possibilities:

1. Iranian anti-aircraft fire as an airliner was mistaken for an enemy airplane.  Given the proximity to Tehran, there could well have been an anti-aircraft battery.  Recall that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014,was downed over the Donbass region of Ukraine during the between Ukraine and Russia.  The danger of such misidentification accidents is a major reason why the FAA has banned U.S. airlines from flying over Iraqi and Iranian airspace and many airlines from other countries have suspended flights.

2. A collision with another aircraft, possibly a drone. 

Ilya Kusa, a Ukrainian international affairs expert, said amid the US-Iranian tensions "there were lots of them in the sky" immediately after the rocket attacks.

Russian military pilot Vladimir Popov said: "It could have been an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, which are small in size and poorly visible on radars.

"A plane in a collision could get significant damage and even catch fire in the air."

3. Sabotage, including the possibility that ground personnel at the airport did something to cripple the airplane after takeoff.  Recall that an American Airlines mechanic in Miami named Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani "admitted to federal agents that he tampered with the Boeing 737-800 [the same model that crashed in Tehran] at Miami International Airport on July 17, forcing the plane to be grounded before takeoff, according to court records."

4. A bomb.

In the spirit of "round up the usual suspects," it would not be surprising to see Iranian authorities eventually blaming Israeli agents for the crash.

The investigation of the crash may well be hampered, as the UK Daily Mail reports:
Iran says it has found the plane's black boxes but will not give them to planemaker Boeing or the United States. 

Ali Abedzadeh, the head of Tehran's civil aviation organisation, said it was not clear which country Iran would send the box to so that its data could be analysed.

There were a large number of Canadian citizens onboard the plane.

Breaking down the numbers, officials said there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and three Britons on flight PS752, along with 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans and four Germans. 

Canada is home to a large Iranian diaspora community and UIA offers discount flights between Tehran and Toronto, with a transit in Kiev. 

Iran may be pondering how best to exploit this tragedy.  I would not trust anything the Iranians say about the causes.