The disaster comes as Boeing struggles to rehabilitate its image after two fatal crashes within five months led to the worldwide grounding of its 737 Max in 2019. That crisis has cost Boeing more than $9 billion and led to the firing of chief executive Dennis Muilenburg just weeks ago. The Chicago-based company is facing many lawsuits from victims’ families, shareholders and airlines like American and Southwest. In December, Boeing announced that it would indefinitely stop production on the Max in January — which it had continued to supply at the cost of $1.5 billion a month — an interruption that would ripple throughout the economy and jeopardize tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.
“This is a tragic event and our heartfelt thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families,” Boeing said in a tweet Wednesday. “We are in contact with our airline customer and stand by them in this difficult time. We are ready to assist in any way needed.”
The Iranian Students’ News Agency, a state-run media organization, shared a video that it said showed the crash. In it, a ball of flame descends in the distance before erupting, lighting up the predawn sky. Another video tweeted by Iran’s Tasnim News Agency showed parts of a plane scattered and ablaze on the ground. Iranian officials and state-run media have attributed the crash to an engine fire.
“There is no similarity between the issue here and the Max,” said John Cox, an airline safety consultant and former pilot, who described the plane as a “veteran workhorse.”
Modern aircraft are designed to be able to fly safely for more than an hour in the event of engine failure with a single-engine, but a significant failure could cause damage to other parts of an aircraft.
“Politics have no place in an accident investigation. We fly these airplanes all around the world, all across geographic borders,” Cox said. “The investigation needs to be excluded from the tensions of any governments. I am hopeful the Iranians will follow international protocol and allow any parties that can add value to the investigation.”
“Even if Boeing can’t be in the investigation in Iran, it’s likely they will be involved,” he said.
Portions of this Report Originally Appeared in The Washington Post