Australian Siblings In Iranian Air Disaster


Brisbane Times
siblings-in-iranian-air-disaster-20090715-dlkj.htm l
July 16 2009

Two Australians are believed to have been among 168 people killed
after a plane crash in north-west Iran.

The Department of Foreign Affairs today confirmed that two Australians
– a NSW brother and sister aged in their 20s – were listed on the
flight manifesto for the Caspian Airlines Tupolev TU-154 that crashed
near the city of Qazvin.

The siblings hold dual citizenship with Australia and Iran, a DFAT
spokeswoman said.

A statement from DFAT said the siblings’ remains had not yet been

"Consular staff from the Australian embassy in Tehran, Iran,
are seeking urgent information from local authorities about the
arrangements to identify the Australians and assistance to return
their remains," the statement said.

"The plane is completely destroyed and bodies are burned and ruined,"
the state-run Mehr newsagency cited a provincial police chief, Masoud
Jafarinasab, as saying.

The aircraft went down 16 minutes after taking off from the Imam
Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, a spokesman for Iran’s
aviation agency, Reza Jafarzadeh, told Mehr. He said flight 7908 was
headed for the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

The plane was carrying 153 passengers and 15 crew, he told state TV
in a phone interview.

Most of the passengers were Armenians, but some Georgian citizens
and other foreigners were on board, the Associated Press reported,
citing an unidentified representative of the plane’s operator,
Caspian Airlines.

Debris was scattered across an area stretching up to 15 kilometres,
suggesting the aircraft disintegrated in the air, Mehr reported,
without citing anyone.

The plane appears to have come down about halfway into its climb,
said David Learmount, a former British Royal Air Force pilot and
air-safety editor at Flight International magazine.

The nature of the impact suggests a loss of control rather than a
crash landing, he said.

Even if two of the three engines fail, a TU-154 pilot can attempt to
land in a controlled way. The model has a safety record comparable
to Boeings of the same generation, such as the 727, Mr Learmount said.

"Its safety record is good but not quite comparable with that of a
modern Airbus or Boeing. The pilot’s situational awareness is not up
to what a modern cockpit can give you."

Caspian Airlines refused to comment on what may have caused the plane
to crash before examining its flight data recorders, the Russian
newsagency Interfax said.

It is too early to say whether the model’s age or characteristics
played any part in the disaster, Mr Learmount stressed.

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