Downed Plane: Britain’s Envoy In Iran Denies Attending Protest Before Arrest

Iranians students demonstrate following a tribute for the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 in front of the Amirkabir University in the capital Tehran, on January 11, 2020. AFP

 

Britain’s ambassador to Tehran denied Sunday that he took part in a demonstration that broke out at a memorial for the 176 people killed when a plane was shot down.

Students held a gathering at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University on Saturday evening to honour those killed hours after Iran admitted the Ukrainian airliner was downed by mistake.

Iran’s Mehr news agency said the ambassador, Rob Macaire, was arrested for his alleged “involvement in provoking suspicious acts” at the gathering in front of the university.

On Sunday, Iran confirmed his arrest as a foreigner at “an illegal gathering”, but said he was released soon after being identified.

“Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy,” Macaire said on Twitter, adding he had been detained half an hour after leaving the area.

“Normal to want to pay respects — some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting,” he said.

“Arresting diplomats is of course illegal, in all countries,” he added.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister on Sunday confirmed Macaire had been arrested but said he was freed soon after being identified.

“He wasn’t detained, but arrested as unknown foreigner in an illegal gathering,” Seyed Abbas Araghchi tweeted, adding Macaire was released 15 minutes after he called the British diplomat to confirm his identity.

The British government said Macaire was arrested and detained briefly in the Iranian capital in what it called a “flagrant violation of international law”.

Iran’s armed forces said on Saturday the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 was mistakenly shot down, after denying for days Western claims it was brought down by a missile.

Police dispersed students who chanted “radical” and “destructive” slogans when the tribute to those killed in the air disaster turned into an angry demonstration, Fars news agency reported.

AFP

Iran Recovers Blacks Boxes From Crashed Plane

Rescue teams work amidst debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board. AFP

 

Iranian search and rescue teams have found the black boxes from a Ukrainian airliner that crashed Wednesday soon after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, the country’s civil aviation authority said.

“The two black boxes of the Ukranian 737 aeroplane that crashed this morning have been found,” said the authority’s spokesman, Reza Jafarzadeh, according to semi-official news agency ISNA.

The Ukrainian jet bound for Kiev slammed into a field before dawn at Khalaj Abad, about 45 kilometres (30 miles) northwest of Imam Khomeini International Airport.

None of the 176 people on board survived, Iranian officials said.

The plane belonged to Ukraine International Airlines, which said the Boeing 737 involved in the crash had been built in 2016 and was checked only two days before it went down.

Preliminary statements by Iranian and Ukrainian authorities suggest the plane suffered an engine malfunction, though the airline did not detail any reasons for the accident.

The crash came shortly after Iran said it fired missiles at Iraqi bases in revenge for the killing of one of the Islamic republic’s top military commanders in a US drone strike on Friday.

Following the missile strikes, the US Federal Aviation Administration said it was banning US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf after rocket attacks on US forces in Iraq.

Other international carrier said they were suspending all routes passing through Iraqi or Iranian airspace.

AFP

Crashed Chile Plane Had Emergency In 2016 – Air Force

Handout picture released by the Chilean Air Force in Punta Arenas, Chile, on December 12, 2019, showing landing gear of the C-130 Hercules transport plane, which disappeared late Monday with 38 people on board, recovered from the sea by search teams.   AFP

 

The Chilean Hercules C-130 plane that crashed on its way to Antarctica this week killing all 38 people on board suffered an emergency three years ago on the same route, the air force said on Saturday.

Following the plane’s disappearance after taking off from the southern city of Punta Arenas, local media broadcast a video showing emergency equipment including firefighters and ambulances waiting on the runway in the city’s airport in April 2016.

In a statement, the Chilean Air Force said the plane shown in the footage is the same one that crashed as it was crossing the Drake Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific en route to a Chilean airbase.

As it came to land at the base in Antarctica in 2016 “the crew realized that the left main gear of the aircraft did not travel to the down position and secure when activating the landing gear,” the statement said.

The pilot decided to turn back to Punta Arenas, using an alternate method to lower the landing gear and touching down uneventfully, the statement added.

The air force has previously said the crashed plane’s maintenance record was in order, but that it would investigate a WhatsApp audio message sent by a passenger to relatives that allegedly said the plane was having electrical problems.

Authorities say they have not ruled out anything as to the cause of the crash, which killed all 21 passengers and 17 crew aboard.

Debris from the plane was located in a 12 square mile (30 square kilometer) area in the Drake Passage, a storm-tossed body of water south of Cape Horn.

On Friday, remains of people killed in the crash were turned over to a coroner for identification.

AFP

Chile Confirms Finding Human Remains, Debris, From Missing Plane

Pilots get off a F-16 plane after combing waters off the southern tip of South America searching for the Chilean Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo plane that went missing with 38 people aboard, at Chabunco army base in Punta Arenas, Chile, on December 12, 2019.  PABLO COZZAGLIO / AFP

 

Chile confirmed Thursday that human remains and debris found by search ships are from a military plane reported missing with 38 people aboard, and the chances of finding survivors is “practically impossible.”

“The condition of the plane wreckage that was found makes it practically impossible that there are survivors from this air accident,” Air Force chief Arturo Merino told a news conference in the southern port of Punta Arenas.

Merino, flanked by Defense Minister Alberto Espina and other officials, confirmed reports that human remains had also been recovered from the sea.

“Along with the parts of the plane that have been found, human remains have been found that are most likely to be body parts of those travelling on the C-130,” Merino said.

Search teams have been combing waters off the southern tip of South America for any sign of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, which disappeared late Monday.

Thirty-eight people — 21 passengers and 17 crew — were on board the plane headed to the Eduardo Frei base across the Drake Passage in the Antarctic.

Most were air force personnel, but also aboard were three people from the army, two from a private construction company and an official from a Chilean university.

Many of them were traveling to carry out logistical support tasks at the base, Chile’s largest in the Antarctic.

Officials said the debris was located in a 30 square kilometer area in the Drake Passage, where some 23 aircraft and 14 ships have been concentrating the search effort.

 Human remains 

On Wednesday, the governor of Chile’s far southern Megallanes region, Jose Fernandez, said rescuers had found human remains during the search for the plane.

“They told us that they had found other airplane debris as well as human remains from those on board,” Fernandez told reporters in provincial capital Punta Arenas, where many family members were gathering to be close to the rescue effort.

His comments came shortly after the air force issued a statement saying that, out of respect for family members, all information regarding remains would be “analyzed, validated and communicated” by the air force itself.

Earlier, the Chilean-flagged vessel Antarctic Endeavour located debris that “could be part of the remains of the sponges of the internal fuel tanks,” Air Force Commander Eduardo Mosqueira told a news conference.

He added that the wreckage was located around 16 nautical miles (30 kilometers) from the plane’s last known position when it disappeared from radar screens at 6:13 pm (2130 GMT) Monday.

A Brazilian navy vessel has also recovered wreckage, some 280 nautical miles from the far southern Argentinian port of Ushuaia, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter.

Search vessels and planes from the United States, Uruguay and Argentina were also combing nearly 385 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) around the plane’s last known position in the Drake Passage, a tempestuous body of water south of Cape Horn.

The Vatican said Pope Francis was following the situation closely and keeping the families of the missing in his prayers.

AFP

First Commercial Electric Plane Takes Flight In Canada

Canada’s flag

 

The world’s first fully electric commercial aircraft took its inaugural test flight on Tuesday, taking off from the Canadian city of Vancouver and offering hope that airlines may one day end their polluting emissions.

“This proves that commercial aviation in all-electric form can work,” said Roei Ganzarski, chief executive of Seattle-based engineering firm magniX.

The company designed the plane’s motor and worked in partnership with Harbour Air, which ferries half a million passengers a year between Vancouver, Whistler ski resort and nearby islands and coastal communities.

Ganzarski said the technology would mean significant cost savings for airlines — not to mention zero emissions.

“This signifies the start of the electric aviation age,” he told reporters.

Civil aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions as people increasingly take to the skies and new technologies have been slow to get off the ground.

At 285 grammes of CO2 emitted per kilometre (mile) travelled by each passenger, airline industry emissions far exceed those from all other modes of transport, according to the European Environment Agency. The emissions contribute to global warming and climate change, which scientists say will unleash ever harsher droughts, superstorms, and sea-level rise.

The e-plane — a 62-year-old, six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane retrofitted with an electric motor –- was piloted by Greg McDougall, founder and chief executive of Harbour Air.

“For me that flight was just like flying a Beaver, but it was a Beaver on electric steroids. I actually had to back off on the power,” he said.

McDougall took the plane on a short loop along the Fraser River near Vancouver International Airport in front of around 100 onlookers soon after sunrise.

 Environmentally-friendly flying 

The flight lasted less than 15 minutes, according to an AFP journalist on the scene.

“Our goal is to actually electrify the entire fleet. There’s no reason not to,” said McDougall.

On top of fuel efficiency, the company would save millions in maintenance costs, as electric motors require “drastically” less upkeep, McDougall said.

However, Harbour Air will have to wait at least two years before it can begin electrifying its fleet of more than 40 seaplanes.

The e-plane has to be tested further to confirm it is reliable and safe. In addition, the electric motor must be approved and certified by regulators.

In Ottawa, Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters ahead of the maiden flight that he had his “fingers crossed that the electric plane will work well.”

If it does, he said, “it could set a trend for more environmentally friendly flying.”

Battery power is also a challenge. An aircraft like the one flown on Tuesday could only fly about 100 miles (160 kilometers) on lithium battery power, said Ganzarski.

While that’s not far, it’s sufficient for the majority of short-haul flights run by Harbour Air.

“The range now is not where we’d love it to be, but it’s enough to start the revolution,” said Ganzarski, who predicts batteries and electric motors will eventually be developed to power longer flights.

While the world waits, he said cheaper short-haul flights powered by electricity could transform the way people connect and where they work.

“If people are willing to drive an hour to work, why not fly 15 minutes to work?” he said.

AFP

Chile Confirms Wreckage Found Is From Missing Plane

Handout picture released by the Chilean Air Force showing a part of a fuel tank, allegedly from the Chilean Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo plane that went missing in the sea with 38 people aboard, found at Drake Passage, near to Chile, on December 11, 2019. HO / Chilean Air Force / AFP

 

Chile confirmed on Thursday that human remains and debris found by search ships are from a military plane reported missing with 38 people aboard, and the chances of finding survivors is “practically impossible.”

“The condition of the plane wreckage that was found makes it practically impossible that there are survivors from this air accident,” Air Force chief Arturo Merino told a news conference in the southern port of Punta Arenas.

Merino, flanked by Defense Minister Alberto Espina and other officials, confirmed reports that human remains had also been recovered from the sea.

“Along with the parts of the plane that have been found, human remains have been found that are most likely to be body parts of those travelling on the C-130,” Merino said.

Search teams have been combing waters off the southern tip of South America for any sign of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, which disappeared late Monday.

Thirty-eight people — 21 passengers and 17 crew — were on board the plane headed to the Eduardo Frei base across the Drake Passage in the Antarctic.

Most were air force personnel, but also aboard were three people from the army, two from a private construction company and an official from a Chilean university.

Many of them were traveling to carry out logistical support tasks at the base, Chile’s largest in the Antarctic.

Officials said the debris was located in a 30 square kilometer area in the Drake Passage, where some 23 aircraft and 14 ships have been concentrating the search effort.

 Human remains 

On Wednesday, the governor of Chile’s far southern Megallanes region, Jose Fernandez, said rescuers had found human remains during the search for the plane.

“They told us that they had found other airplane debris as well as human remains from those on board,” Fernandez told reporters in provincial capital Punta Arenas, where many family members were gathering to be close to the rescue effort.

His comments came shortly after the air force issued a statement saying that, out of respect for family members, all information regarding remains would be “analyzed, validated and communicated” by the air force itself.

Earlier, the Chilean-flagged vessel Antarctic Endeavour located debris that “could be part of the remains of the sponges of the internal fuel tanks,” Air Force Commander Eduardo Mosqueira told a news conference.

He added that the wreckage was located around 16 nautical miles (30 kilometers) from the plane’s last known position when it disappeared from radar screens at 6:13 pm (2130 GMT) Monday.

A Brazilian navy vessel has also recovered wreckage, some 280 nautical miles from the far southern Argentinian port of Ushuaia, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter.

Search vessels and planes from the United States, Uruguay and Argentina were also combing nearly 385 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) around the plane’s last known position in the Drake Passage, a tempestuous body of water south of Cape Horn.

The Vatican said Pope Francis was following the situation closely and keeping the families of the missing in his prayers.

AFP

Plane Crash Kills Nine, Injures Three In South Dakota

 

A plane crash in the US state of South Dakota killed nine people, including two children, and injured three others on Saturday while a winter storm warning was in place, officials said.

The Pilatus PC-12, a single-engine turboprop plane, crashed shortly after take-off approximately a mile from the Chamberlain airport, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

Among the dead was the plane’s pilot, Brule County state’s attorney Theresa Maule Rossow said, adding that a total of 12 people had been on board.

The three survivors had been taken to the hospital in Sioux Falls, she told US media.

The flight left the airport just before noon local time, with a destination of Idaho Falls Regional Airport in the western state of Idaho.

The FAA said investigators were en route to the crash site and that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) would be in charge of the investigation.

The NTSB tweeted that it was “investigating today’s crash of Pilatus PC-12 near Chamberlain, SD.”

South Dakota is located in the Northern Plains, a region facing blizzard conditions as a storm blows eastward across the United States.

A winter storm warning remains in effect in Brule County until midday Sunday, the National Weather Service said, potentially including blowing snow that “could significantly reduce visibility.”

“The men and women of law enforcement, first responders and medical professionals should be commended in their heroic actions to rescue the victims in extreme weather conditions,” the state’s attorney office said.

UN Joins DR Congo To Search For Missing Plane

 

UN forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sent three aircraft to help search for a DRC government cargo plane with eight people on board missing since Thursday.

The plane, which had been supplying equipment for a visit to Goma by President Felix Tshisekedi, disappeared after taking off in bad weather from the eastern city.

The UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO sent two planes and a helicopter on Saturday to try to locate the Antonov 72 plane, whose crew included two Russians according to Moscow’s embassy in Kinshasa.

If the plane is found, MONUSCO would do everything it could to get help to the crew, spokeswoman Florence Marshal told AFP.

“But the weather is not making the task any easier,” she added.

Congolese aircraft are already searching for the missing plane, which according to the DRC’s Civil Aviation Authority (AAC) was lost 59 minutes after takeoff.

Tshisekedi returned to Kinshasa late Thursday after his visit to Goma, the second to the strife-torn Beni region since taking office in January from Joseph Kabila, who ruled the DRC for 17 years.

Several hundred Tshisekedi supporters took part in an anti-Kabila demonstration on Friday, accusing followers of the former president of being behind the crash.

But aviation accidents involving Antonovs are fairly common in DR Congo, sometimes involving a large loss of life.

Tshisekedi was sworn in as president in January and allied himself with Kabila, whose supporters control parliament and the regional assemblies.

AFP

Bus Collides With Canadian PM Trudeau’s Plane

Liberal Party leader and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on September 11, 2019.  Dave Chan / AFP

 

Justin Trudeau’s re-election bid suffered a setback out of the gate when a bus carrying journalists collided with his campaign plane at a whistlestop in westernmost Canada, forcing him to fly a loaner Thursday.

According to reporters travelling with the Liberal leader, the collision occurred shortly after landing in Victoria late Wednesday on the first leg of a cross-country tour.

The media bus drove under and scraped the wing of the plane, they said. Trudeau had already left the airport. Pictures on social media showed a gash underneath the wing.

“There were no injuries and the damage to the plane is being assessed,” Liberal spokeswoman Eleanore Catenaro told AFP.

The mishap, she added, would not affect Trudeau’s busy schedule, which included campaign stops on Thursday in Kamloops and Edmonton.

A new plane was procured, but it does not feature Trudeau’s name and partisan branding emblazoned on it as did the original.

Commentators suggested that the accident was allegorical of Trudeau’s rough campaign start, in which he faced renewed criticism over his alleged meddling in the prosecution of a corporate crime.

“It’s only been a day and the Liberal election plane just got hit by a bus,” read one headline.

On Twitter, most appeared to laugh it off, with one post suggesting that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was giddy that the “left wing was damaged” in the crash.

Scheer’s own plane had been rerouted due to fog on its inaugural flight from Ottawa on Wednesday, forcing the candidate, his campaign team and reporters to disembark midway and take an hour-long bus ride to his first campaign event in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.

AFP

At Least One Dead In Russian Plane Blaze

This handout picture taken and released on May 5, 2019, by the Investigative Committee of Russia shows a fire of a Russian-made Superjet-100 at Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow. AFP

 

At least one person died and several others were wounded after a passenger plane caught fire during an emergency landing at Moscow’s busiest airport, Russian state news agencies said Sunday.

“Based on current information, one person has died and four people need medical attention” after the plane erupted in flames as it tried to land at Sheremetyevo airport, the TASS agency quoted Russian investigators as saying.

Russian television showed huge black columns of smoke towering over the plane. Other videos shared on social media showed the aircraft ablaze as it attempted to land, then passengers leaving by a forward door.

READ ALSO: Two Killed In Rocket Strike From Gaza On Israeli City

The Interfax agency reported that the plane, a Russian-made Superjet-100, had just taken off from Sheremetyevo on a domestic route when the crew issued a distress signal.

“It attempted an emergency landing but did not succeed the first time, and on the second time the landing gear hit (the ground), then the nose did, and it caught fire,” a source told Interfax.

According to the Ria Novosti news agency, the plane had been headed to the far northwest city of Murmansk in Russia. It said initial indications suggested an electrical fault might have caused the fire while the plane was in the air.

Russian investigators said they had opened a criminal probe into a possible breach of security rules.

AFP

Crashed Ethiopian Airlines Black Box Recovered

An Ethiopian Airline Boeing 737-700 aircraft takes off from Felix Houphouet-Boigny Airport in Abidjan. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Investigators have recovered one of two black box recorders on the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 that crashed just outside Addis Ababa Sunday, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew, Ethiopian state media reported.

READ ALSO: Nationals On Board Crashed Ethiopian Plane

“#BreakingNews: The black box voice recorder from Ethiopian Airlines aircraft which crashed yesterday has been recovered: #Ethiopia,” FANA Broadcasting Corporate said on its Twitter page.

AFP

Body Recovered From Wreck Of Sala’s Plane Taken To Britain

 

Investigators recovered a body from the wreckage of a plane carrying Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala in the Channel and transported it to Britain on Thursday for identification.

Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) also said that bad weather meant they were not able to recover the plane and it was, therefore, closing down the operation.

The light aircraft was carrying the 28-year-old footballer to his new Premier League team Cardiff City when it disappeared near the British island of Guernsey on January 21, along with 59-year-old pilot David Ibbotson.

Sala’s disappearance prompted outpourings of grief across the footballing world, including at his former club Nantes in France where the plane was flying from.

READ ALSO: Body Found Underwater In Wreckage Of Footballer Sala’s Plane

After search operations were suspended, a shipwreck hunter hired by Sala’s family with funds donated by football stars such as Lionel Messi found the wreckage on Sunday.

The AAIB, who then took over the operation, revealed on Monday that an unidentified body had been found at the site.

“In challenging conditions, the AAIB and its specialist contractors successfully recovered the body previously seen amidst the wreckage,” the AAIB said Wednesday.

“The operation was carried out in as dignified a way as possible and the families were kept informed of progress.”

But it added: “The weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future and so the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close”.

It said that extensive video footage captured by a remotely operated vehicle is expected to “provide valuable evidence for our safety investigation,” adding that it intends to publish an interim report on the accident later this month.

The recovered body was taken to the Isle of Portland in southern England on board the Geo Ocean III offshore supply ship and will be now be passed to the coroner in the county of Dorset for identification.

Private search 

Sala was flying to join up with Cardiff City in what was the most expensive signing in the Welsh club’s history.

Nantes have consulted lawyers to explore legal options to ensure Cardiff pay the transfer fee for Sala, a source close to the French club revealed on Wednesday.

According to the source, the first instalment of the 17-million-euro ($19.3 million) deal for the Argentine striker has yet to be paid, despite the transfer being finalised before the accident.

Nantes would also consider taking the case to FIFA, the source added. The club has not yet responded to a request for comment by AFP.

According to BBC Wales, Nantes have given Cardiff a 10-day ultimatum over the first payment of between five and six million euros.

A source at Cardiff told British media that the Welsh club will honour the contract but only once they have clarified “all the facts”. Cardiff are said to be “surprised” with the timing of the demand so soon after the tragedy.

The plane, a Piper PA-46 Malibu, vanished from radar around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Guernsey, with pilot Ibbotson the only other person aboard.

After the official rescue team gave up their search, saying there was little chance of finding anyone alive, Sala’s family raised more than 370,000 euros ($422,000) in an online campaign to pay for a private hunt.

“Had that not happened, I don’t think anybody would have searched for the plane,” shipwreck hunter David Mearns, whose private company found the plane, told AFP.

The discovery of two seat cushions on the French coast last week revealed that the plane was broken, Mearns added.

Earlier this week Sala’s father, Horacio Sala, acknowledged that there was no prospect of finding his son alive.

“There’s no longer any hope,” he told Fox Sports.

“We hope the two bodies are inside (the plane). It’s over, the only thing I hope now is that they find them.”