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Iran civil aviation chief 'certain' Ukrainian plane not hit by missile

Pilot communicated with Mehrabad airport

Iranian Ali Abedzadeh, who is the head of Iran's civil aviation department, has rejected claims that Tehran unintentionally hit the airliner with a surface-to-air missile, saying it was impossible due to close coordination between Iran's air defence and civil aviation department.

"As I said, based on the law, there is full coordination between our air defence and and our civil [aviation] system. Our civil aviation personnel and air defence personnel sit side by side, so it is absolutely impossible for such a thing [shooting down a passenger plane] to happen."

The latest report from Tehran said that according to the aviation authority, the pilot did contact Mehrabad airport, which deals with domestic flights in Tehran, seeking permission to climb to a higher altitude of 26,000 ft.

"We're getting that extra information because before we thought the pilot had no communication but now we're hearing that he did communicate with Mehrabad airport," Baig said.

The aviation authority also said the plane had caught fire for a minute and a half to two minutes.

"They said that he did try to turn the airplane around and his priority was to save the aircraft and the passengers," Baig said.

Iranian authorities have said they will try to repair the damaged black box to retrieve the data, but if they don't succeed, they will seek assistance from Canada, the US and Ukraine, Baig added.

Reuters reported that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has accepted an invitation from Iran to take part in its investigation into the crash of a Ukrainian airplane in Tehran, the agency confirmed late on Thursday.

The NTSB confirmed it would take part in the probe after an Iranian official told Reuters of the agreement.


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U.S./NTSB Accepts Iran's Invitation To Join Probe Of Ukrainian Jet Disaster That Killed 176

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