Iran Air Flight 277
EP-IRP, the Boeing 727 involved, seen five days before the accident
|Date||January 9, 2011|
|Summary||Crashed following double engine flame-out in icing conditions|
|Site||Near Tarmani, Urmia County, Iran |
|Aircraft type||Boeing 727-286Adv|
|IATA flight No.||IR277|
|ICAO flight No.||IRA277|
|Call sign||IRANAIR 277|
|Flight origin||Mehrabad International Airport, Tehran, Iran|
|Destination||Urmia Airport, Urmia, Iran|
On January 9, 2011, Iran Air Flight 277, a Boeing 727 on a scheduled domestic service from Tehran to Urmia, Iran, crashed after aborting its approach into Urmia Airport in poor weather. Seventy-eight of the 105 people on board were killed. The official investigation concluded that icing conditions and incorrect engine management by the crew led to a double engine flame-out, loss of altitude and impact with the ground.
At around 19:00 local time (16:00 UTC), while on approach to Urmia Airport, the crew initiated a missed approach procedure and announced its intention to return to Tehran. At the time, the weather at Urmia was poor, with low clouds and 800 meters of visibility in snow.
Contact with the Boeing was lost shortly after. The aircraft crashed near the village of Tarmani, around 15 km (9.3 mi; 8.1 nmi) south-east of Urmia Airport, breaking into multiple sections. Of the 96 passengers and 9 crew on board, only 27 survived.
Aircraft and crew
The aircraft involved in the accident was a tri-jet Boeing 727-286Adv with Iranian registration EP-IRP. Manufactured in 1974, the aircraft had spent a long time out of service. It was impounded at Baghdad, Iraq from 1984 to 1990, and then placed in storage from 1991 to 2002. It was then overhauled and returned to service.
Of the 105 people on board, 78 were killed (including the flight crew) and 27 survived, all with injuries. Most of the victims sustained injuries to the neck and spinal cord. In the aftermath of the crash, 36 ambulances and 11 hospitals were utilized in the rescue operations. Rescue efforts were complicated by heavy snow in the area, which was reportedly around 70 cm (28 in) deep at the crash site.
Iran's Civil Aviation Organization (CAO.IRI) opened an inquiry into the crash. The day after the accident, both the flight's cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were recovered and taken to Tehran for analysis.
In 2017, CAO.IRI published its final accident report. From its analysis, it emerged that after starting its final approach to Urmia Airport's runway 21 from an altitude of 7,000 ft (2,100 m) – Urmia Airport being at an elevation of 4,300 ft (1,300 m) – a navigational error by the flight crew meant that the aircraft failed to establish itself on the instrument landing system. Descending through 5,900 ft (1,800 m) and having never made visual contact with the runway, the crew elected to go around. The missed approach procedure started normally, with the aircraft climbing to 8,800 ft (2,700 m).
Investigators believe the Boeing encountered severe icing conditions, which caused disruption of the airflow and loss of engine thrust. The aircraft started to descend and entered a turn that momentarily reached 41° bank angle, causing the activation of the stick shaker. Despite application of full thrust, engines No. 1 and 3 began to run down. Descending through 7,000 ft (2,100 m), the flight engineer could be heard announcing that both engines have failed. Subsequent attempts to relight them were unsuccessful. During the last moments of the flight, flaps were retracted and the airspeed progressively decayed; at 4,400 ft (1,300 m), just 100 ft (30 m) above terrain, the aircraft was flying at 112 knots (207 km/h; 129 mph) with 21° right bank. The last recorded airspeed value was 69 knots (128 km/h; 79 mph). The aircraft impacted terrain at 4,307 ft (1,313 m) Mean Sea Level (MSL).
The report concluded that the main causes of the accident were severe icing conditions and inappropriate actions by the flight crew. Obsolete on-board systems, absence of suitable simulators for adverse weather conditions, failure to follow standard operating procedures, and inadequate crew resource management were cited as contributory factors.
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|Photo of aircraft involved|