Search Continues in Mountains for Wreckage of Downed Iranian Passenger Plane


ATR-72 planes were developed and produced in France and Italy.

Aseman Airlines, a semi-private carrier and one of the country's largest, flies mainly to domestic destinations but also operates global flights to Istanbul, Kuwait City and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

A passenger on the ill-fated Iranian airliner which crashed earlier today leaving 66 dead messaged a relative saying "may God protect us, that we arrive safely" shortly before take off.

Iran has suffered several plane crashes in the past few decades. "Any rescue operation will depend entirely on the weather".

Other Iranian airlines, including Airtour Airlines and Zagros Airlines, have also been in talks with Airbus. "We shared your memories, and cried".

According to Iranian news website Roozarooz, the plane had only recently begun flying again after seven years of repairs.

Lifting sanctions on aviation purchases was a key clause in the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani expressed their condolences to the victims and their families, ordering officials to spare no efforts in their rescue operation, the state-run Islamic News Agency reported.

One of the top priorities of Iran was removing sanctions on its aviation industry.

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"Boeing negotiated the MOA under authorizations from the USA government following a determination that Iran had met its obligations under the nuclear accord signed in 2015", it added.

With decades of global sanctions pending the commercial passenger aircraft fleet of Iran seems to have aged with air accidents becoming quite a regular in the last few years.

National carrier Iran Air has ordered 80 planes from Boeing and 100 from Airbus.

Planemaker ATR said the cause of the accident was not yet known. None of the 66 passengers and crews on board was believed to have survived. Iran has long battled aged aircraft due to the Western Sanctions. Instead, he criticized Iranian aviation officials for not being swift enough in updating the fleet.

"It is not a humanitarian crisis".

The helicopter's pilot, identified as Soheli, told IRIB that he saw from above some large parts of the plane's fragmented pieces labeled with Aseman company's logo.

"This plane was of the most modern models".

The weather is expected to get even colder in the Zagros Mountains on Tuesday, making the search and rescue operation more hard.

"Five helicopters are on alert to resume the search at dawn if the weather conditions are better".