Canada: still no firm plans for downloading crashed jet's flight data
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - There are still no firm plans for downloading the cockpit and flight data from a Ukrainian airliner which was shot down by Iran 10 days ago, Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said on Sunday.
A total of 176 people died in the disaster, 57 of them Canadian citizens. Canada's government reiterated demands on Sunday that the boxes be sent to either France or Ukraine.
Iran is trying to analyze the black boxes, the state IRNA news agency reported on Sunday, denying a report that a decision had been taken to send the recorders to Ukraine.
The TSB said in a statement that two of its crash investigators had left Tehran earlier on Sunday after a six-day visit during which they examined the wreckage.
The TSB said it understood the boxes were still in Iran and added: "There are still no firm plans as to when and where the aircraft recorders will be downloaded and analyzed".
Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said he wrote to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday to urge the boxes be quickly sent to Ukraine or France.
"The wish of the international community is that the black boxes be sent where they should be sent ... to ensure we have proper technical expertise when (they) are opened," he said on the sidelines of a cabinet retreat in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday called on Iran to send the boxes to France, which he said was one of the few nations with the ability to read data from damaged fight and cockpit recorders.
The TSB, which said its investigators would be heading to Ukraine for talks, added that Iran's Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau had been "cooperative and helpful". Iran's military has said the airliner was shot down in error.
The TSB said the chief Iranian investigator "may travel to Ukraine this week" for talks with the National Bureau of Air Accidents Investigation of Ukraine and to visit its laboratory.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Daniel Wallis)