By: Mir M.Hosseini
An Iranian plane crashed Tuesday as it approached Sharjah airport in the United Arab Emirates, killing 43 people aboard. The Kish Air Fokker-50, flying to Sharjah from the Iranian island of Kish in the Persian Gulf, crashed at 11:40 a.m. in an open area near the airport. Through the charred debris, only the tail and cockpit of the plane were recognizable. The Fokker-50 that crashed was 11 years old, according to the Dutch company which owns much of Fokker's assets. This one was newer than average passenger planes in Iran's ageing fleet. The plane was delivered to Kish Air in 2002.
Officials found a technical fault in the engine and said they had retrieved the plane's black box. Iran's aviation authority said in a statement that the plane had asked for an emergency landing as it was approaching Sharjah, then deviated to the left and crashed. Local police listed the victims by nationality as 19 Iranians including the six crew members, 12 Indians, four Egyptians, two Filipinos, two Algerians, a Syrian, a Chinese, a Nigerian and a Bangladeshi. The airline runs domestic and some short-haul international routes to and from Iran's Kish Island in the Persian Gulf. The UAE-Kish route is popular with immigrant workers in the UAE who need to renew visas.
In September, a Tu-154 belonging to Kish Air struck trees while making its approach at the Minsk airport. None of the 40 people aboard was hurt. Iranian aviation officials repeatedly asked the United States to lift sanctions on its airline industry so that they can provide spare parts for its civilian aircrafts at least. Kish Air's workforce consists of approximately 440 employees ...which are mostly retired Air Force experts.
Iran's aviation record has not been bright after the 1979 revolution partly because of lack of international standards also in terms of qualified personnel; in 1995, an Iranian flight attendant hijacked a Kish Air Boeing 707 to Israel during a flight from Tehran. The plane was returned to Tehran with 174 passengers and the crew.
Kish is an Iranian Gulf island which is run largely as a free trading zone but is also a popular resort with a reputation of being more liberal than mainland Iran.