Iranian plane catches fire on landing, captain blamed

January 25, 2010

MASHHAD/TEHRAN – The captain has been blamed for the faulty landing of the passenger aircraft which caught fire on Sunday morning in Mashhad airport in northeast Iran.

Miraculously no passengers were killed or suffered injuries in the air disaster; only 46 passengers who suffered a shock were hospitalized. Until Sunday afternoon only 7 passengers were held in hospital.
Reza Nakhjavani, the director of Iran Civil Aviation Organization, said initial studies show that the captain was responsible for the incident. However, Nakhjavani said the final result will be announced in the next three days after a an analysis of the black box.
The Russian-made Tupolev aircraft, belonging to Taban Airlines with 156 passengers and 12 crews on board, had taken off at 05:35 a.m. local time from the central city of Isfahan to the shrine city of Mashhad.
The plane, which had first flown from the southern city of Abadan could not land in Mashhad airport on Saturday night due to bad weather and it was forced to land in Isfahan, airport officials said.
The plane took off from Isfahan to Mashhad on Sunday morning that its tail caught fire at the time of landing.
The passengers were evacuated from the plane in just 60 minutes.
Mohsen Esmaeili, the director of Mashhad’s Hasheminejad airport, told reporters in Mashhad that poor visibility led to the incident. Esmaeili said the captain, who said a passenger was in critical condition, insisted on landing despite warnings by the airport’s control tower.
Transport minister summoned to Majlis
Meanwhile Transport Minister Hamid Behbahani was summoned to the Majlis Development Committee on Sunday to explain for back-to-back train and plane accidents.
Nakhjavani and Abdolali Saheb-Mohammadi, the director of Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, were also called along him to the parliament to explain the causes of the accidents.
“Following the plane crash in Mashhad, and the derailment of Tehran-Mashhad and Tehran-Kerman trains, the Majlis Development Committee summoned the concerned officials to the Majlis to explain on the accidents,” Ali-Akbar Aqaii, a member of Majlis Development Committee, told the Mehr News Agency.
If it proves that the accidents have happened due to the mismanagements and negligence of the transport officials, the Majlis will discharge its obligations to oversee the performance of executive bodies, he added.
Besides the crash landing of the Mashhad-bound plane on Sunday, two other plane accidents have occurred in the current year (the Iranian calendar started March 2009).
On July 15, 2009, a Caspian Airlines plane en route to Armenia crashed near Qazvin, killing all 168 passengers on board.
Later on July 25, another airliner belonging to Aria Airlines skidded off the runway and caught fire in Mashhad in an emergency landing leaving 16 people dead and 21 injured.
On Saturday a Mashhad-Tehran train went off the tracks leaving 25 killed and injured. Earlier, on October 18, 2009 a Tehran-Kerman train derailed.
The Iranian airline industry, which is heavily reliant on the second-hand Russian planes, has suffered from a series of plane crashes in recent years due to its aging fleet of passenger jets seriously affected by the Western sanctions banning the sales of planes and spare parts to Iran.