Canadian investigators are in Paris today to take part in the long-awaited downloading of data from the flight recorders of the Ukrainian passenger jet shot down by Iran in January.
Canada’s Transportation Safety Board confirmed today that after Tehran’s nearly four-month delay, the so-called black boxes have arrived in Paris.
The TSB sent a team to Paris to witness the download of the data, after an Iranian news agency report that they had been shipped on Saturday.
Today marks a crucial step for grieving families seeking answers to why Iran’s military fired two missiles at the passenger jet on Jan. 8 shortly after take-off from the Tehran airport.
All 176 people aboard were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents and dozens of others with connections to Canada.
Iran initially denied responsibility but was forced to acknowledge the shootdown after video footage on social media appeared to show at least one missile striking the Boeing passenger jet.
“We are pleased to finally move forward with this next step, an important milestone in what must be a thorough and transparent safety investigation,” Kathy Fox, the chair of the TSB, said in a statement.
“It is our hope that data from these recorders can provide additional valuable information to inform the investigation which in the end will help bring answers and closure to the families.”
Iran’s delegate to the International Civil Aviation Organization told the organization on March 11 that the flight data and cockpit voice recorders would be sent to Ukraine’s aviation investigators by March 25, but later blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for a months-long delay.
Britain, Ukraine Afghanistan and Sweden also lost citizens when the plane was destroyed, and the countries formed an alliance with Canada to deal with Iran.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and his counterparts from those countries have been pushing Iran to release the flight recorders.
The tragedy unfolded after Iran launched missiles into Iraq at two American military bases in retaliation for the U.S. having killed a top Iranian general.
Families of those who died on the plane have questioned why the plane was allowed to take off in such circumstances.
With files to Canadian Press