Iranian investigators have found that the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) airplane was accidentally shot down in January owing to human errors and a misaligned missile radar.
The UIA flight 752 hit the ground shortly after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 people onboard.
“PS 752 was identified by one of the air defense units as a threat and targeted consequently," Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said in its report.
The air defense unit had been moved but its radar system was never aligned. Soon after the military gave the go-ahead to the Kyiv-bound Boeing 737-800 flight, it took off.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran was at its peak during that time, owing to the former’s killing of a top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, in drone strikes.
An earlier report by the investigator said that the air defense unit’s missile operator notified higher command about an unidentified object, which was actually the ill-fated Ukrainian airliner, and designated it as a threat. The command failed to communicate to the operator about the airliner that had received clearance. The operator then went ahead and fired two missiles at it. Iranian military procedure states that individual units aren't authorized to fire weapons without explicitly getting orders to do so.
An updated report on Saturday claims that the radar the missile operator was monitoring had been misaligned, causing it to misinterpret the location of the passenger jet and indicate it as an unidentified object. “A failure occurred due to a human error in following the procedure for aligning the radar, causing a 107-degree error in the system,” the report stated.
The airplane, struck by two missiles, lost radio communication and a fire broke out. Two minutes later, it crashed and exploded on impact.
Tehran will reportedly handover the flight’s black box recorder to French investigators on July 20.