A Boeing 707 cargo aircraft on January 14 reportedly crashed into houses in Karaj west of Tehran after its flight deck crew got two airports confused with each other as it came in to land, CANNEWS reported on January 14.
The crew of the few-decades-old Iranian military cargo plane, which was on a delivery run from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, carrying mutton supplies, apparently confused the runway at Karaj’s army-controlled Fath airport with a much larger runway at the city’s Payam airport. The aircraft came off the runway at Fath and smashed into a built-up area of unoccupied holiday villas. Iranian army officials said only one person, a flight engineer, of the 16 people on board had been found alive. He was taken to hospital for emergency treatment. No-one on the ground was reported as a fatality.
At the last moment, the pilot of the plane reportedly realised the runway mistake and attempted to pull the aircraft up, but was unable to prevent the crash.
Local reports said that only a few weeks ago the crew of another passenger plane confused the Fath runway with Payam’s runway but at the last minute the mistake was realised and the aircraft’s flight path was adjusted, saving the lives of the passengers.
Fath airport is owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
During the crash, the plane ploughed through trees and gardens and came to a halt after crashing into a villa. Its wings hit and sliced trees.
CANNEWS said unnamed Iranian aviation officials had commented after the crash that this “obvious [runway identity] hazard should have been taken care of”. The Iranian Aviation Organisation should have been informed of the previous incident, which should have caused it to update the navigational system, they added.
Iran has suffered a series of plane crashes in recent years.
In February last year, Iran's Aseman Airlines was made to ground its fleet of ATR planes after one crashed into the Zagros mountain, killing 66 people on board.
In August 2014, a Sepahan Airlines' Antonov plane crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran. There was just one survivor from among the 40 people on board. It is believed engine failure caused the crash.
Years of tough US sanctions, which were redoubled last year, have prevented Iranian airlines from dealing with ageing fleets by acquiring new planes and critical spare parts. There are reports of parts, and even planes, being smuggled into Iran in attempts at evading the sanctions.
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