Transportation Safety Board officials set to brief Canadians on downed airliner investigation

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is providing its first update today into its efforts to participate in the investigation of the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 last week. will be carrying the briefing live beginning shortly after 2 p.m. ET today.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the board’s team will be “fully in place in Tehran” by tonight, but Canada has yet to be promised the access to evidence it has requested.

The plane crashed Wednesday after it was struck by a surface-to-air missile launched by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an action Iran has blamed on “human error.”

It went down just minutes after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport, and only hours after Iran had launched a ballistic missile strike on two military bases housing U.S. and Canadian troops in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Canada has about 500 troops in Iraq; some were moved to Kuwait in recent weeks in response to the ongoing volatility on the ground. About half of those Canadians are with the NATO training mission, while the others — including up to 250 special forces members — are involved in the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that there were Canadian personnel present at one of the two bases targeted by the Iranians when the attack occurred.

Iranian authorities initially blamed the crash on a mechanical failure. On Saturday, after Trudeau said he had intelligence suggesting the plane was shot down by Iran, officials in Iran admitted their country’s military accidentally shot the plane down.

Trudeau and Champagne have been pushing for full access to the investigation into the downed airliner. Iran’s civil aviation authority said it’s following international rules and will allow other countries to participate in its investigation of the crash.

But the role Canada is being offered by Tehran amounts to the bare minimum required by the international legal convention on aviation accident investigations — and at this point does not include active participation in the crash probe.