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An Iran Aseman Airlines aircraft carrying 60 passengers and six crew crashed into the mountains near Semirom, Iran, on Sunday morning. A spokesperson has confirmed to Iranian state media that there were no survivors of the crash.

The aircraft was operating as Iran Aseman Airlines flight 3704 from Tehran, Iran (THR) to Yasuj, Iran (YES). The cause of the crash is under investigation, but leading suspicions include either a navigational error when descending through the mountains or a mechanical issue on board.

The aircraft was a 24-year old ATR 72-212 (registration EP-ATS) which was delivered new to Iran Aseman Airlines on December 12, 1993. The aircraft was reportedly stored from 2011-2017 at Shiraz International Airport (SYZ) before returning to service in October 2017. Al Jazeera is reporting that this aircraft made an emergency landing on January 25 due to technical issues.

This appears to be the first fatal accident since 1994 for Iran’s third-largest airline, when a Fokker F-28 crashed due to fuel contamination, killing all on board.

Iran Aseman Airlines currently operates a fleet of 26 aircraft with an average age of 24 years. The hodgepodge fleet includes older models of Airbus, ATR, Boeing (including the 727) and Fokker aircraft. However, with Iranian sanctions lifted, the airline is starting a fleet renewal program with 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on order. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2022.

This is the first notable crash of the ATR 72-212 model since a Carpatair crashed in 2013 when landing at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport (FCO), resulting in 16 injuries.

2017 was an extraordinarily safe year for commercial aviation, with just 111 accidents for the year and only two of those being fatal, leading to a loss of 13 lives. However, this is now the second significant fatal accident in 2018, as a Russian regional jet crashed earlier this month. The two accidents combined have caused 137 deaths in the last eight days.

Featured image copyright 2018 Mike Watson. Used with permission.

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