Multiple Causes of Iran President’s Helicopter Crash

( – The helicopter that crashed in Iran, killing its president and many other higher ranked Iranian officials, was a fifty-year-old Vietnam era American-made model. There were no survivors and the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Early speculation has suggested a combination of bad weather and equipment failure was responsible, but conspiracy theories are rife, given the context. Israeli government officials have denied involvement in anonymous statements to the press.

Originally Iranian state press had suggested the helicopter was a Russian Mi-17, but reports were later corrected suggesting it was actually a Bell 212, which was made by U.S. manufacturers. The vehicles are regularly used all over the world and are still airworthy with regular maintenance.

The Bell 212 was known for its versatility; it could be variously refitted for combat, cargo, firefighting, or transporting passengers. The contemporary version is the Subaru Bell 412, made by Bell Helicopter, and it has been used by private and public entities for a wide variety of operations including medical transport, firefighting, police, and passenger transport.

The crashed helicopter was specifically configured for transporting high ranking VIPs. The specific circumstances of the crash indicate there was heavy fog and a passing storm which impaired visibility.

Iran had purchased the helicopter in the late 1970s under a mandate from Mohammed Raza Pahlavi, the Shah or leader of Iran at the time. They bought 300 Bell 212s & 214s, as well as other helicopters for government use. The purchases were interrupted by the 1979 Iranian revolution. Only a few of the vehicles were delivered before sanctions went up.

Former Iranian government officials suggested that the sanctions contributed to the deaths. Former Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed American sanctions for preventing Iran from updating its aging fleet of aircraft in comments he gave to the Iranian state press.

Iran is prohibited from buying aircraft that contain over 10% of U.S.-made parts, according to current sanctions.

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