An Aseman Airlines ATR 72 crashed in Iran in the early hours of Feb 18; there are no reports of survivors among the 66 people on board, but the wreckage is in difficult-to-access mountainous terrain. According to unconfirmed media reports Feb. 19, the wreckage has been found.

The aircraft, an ATR 72-200, was operating flight 3704 from Tehran to the Iranian city of Yasuj. It crashed about an hour later in the Zagros mountains, about 15 miles from Yasuj. Aseman identified the aircraft as registered EP-ATS, built in 1993.

Aseman issued a statement confirming the crash, saying, “Given the special circumstances of the region, we still have no access to the spot of the crash and therefore we cannot accurately and definitely confirm the death of all passengers of this plane.”

There were 60 passengers, four crew and two security guards on board.

Search and rescue teams were deployed but bad weather and the difficult terrain is making it a difficult operation.

Aseman has six ATR turboprops, including the crashed aircraft, all of them aged 20 years or older. Iranian airlines were unable until recently to order new western aircraft because of international sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programs.

When sanctions were lifted in 2015, Iranian airlines were able to begin fleet renewal negotiations. Aseman has a deal with Boeing, confirmed in 2017, for 30 737 MAX aircraft plus purchase rights for 30 additional 737 MAXs. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2022.

Aseman is also believed to be in talks with ATR about potentially replacing its turboprops with newer ATRs.

Karen Walker/ATW