The Blog

Tickets To Paradise

Flying Iran's hazardous skies.

12:00 AM, Jul 21, 2009 • By REUBEN F. JOHNSON
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Because of Iran's mountainous terrain and wide distances between its cities the country needs a reliable air travel network, but its continued isolation from the world community is gradually providing its population with transportation options that are worse than most Third World countries. The only countries Iran has no problems purchasing passenger aircraft from are Russia and China, but most of Russia's commercial production lines are shut down and China's only modern-design regional airliner, the ARJ21, has too many major U.S. components in its configuration to get past the ILSA embargo lists.

Normally, the plight of the ordinary population in this type of situation (and the fact that they continue to die needlessly in air crashes) is of little to no bother to a dictatorial regime like Iran's, but these crashes of falling-apart aircraft have also affected Iran's military. In 2006 a Dassault/Mystere model Falcon 20 VIP light transport crashed near the city of Orumiyeh killing all eleven passengers and two crew members on board. Among those killed in the crash were Ahmad Kazemi, the Commander of the Ground Forces of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and a veteran of Iran's 1980-88 war with Iraq.

The other ten killed in this crash were the commander of the IRGC's 27th Rassoulollah army Saeed Mohtadi, Deputy Commander of Ground Forces for Operation Affairs Saeed Soleymani, the Official in Charge of Information for Ground Forces Hanif Montazer-Qaem, the Commander of Artillery Units Gholam-Reza Yazdani, two members of the Ground Forces' Command Office, Hamid Azinpour and Mohsen Asadi, Deputy Commander of Ground Forces Safdar Reshadi, and IRGC Colonels Ahmad Elhaminejad and Morteza Basiri. Then in 2007, a Russian-made military plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing another 36 members of the IRGC.

It is a fact of life that airplanes will crash from time to time. Even the most modern and well-cared for airliners can unexpectedly succumb to the extreme forces of nature, as the recent loss of Air France flight 447--an only four-year old Airbus A330--on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris demonstrates. However, Iranians both civilian and military are continually dying in increasing numbers for entirely unnecessary reasons. With aircraft as old as those operated now in Iran, catastrophic failures are a certainty and not a question of extreme and unforeseen circumstances.

These deaths from operating aircraft past their useable service life--and those still to come--are another casualty of the increasing isolation that the Ahmadinejad regime has brought on its own people. The question is if it will be the public at large or the Iranian military that finally steps in and demands that a change be made so that some accommodation is reached with the rest of the world.

Reuben F. Johnson is a frequent contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD Online.