News / Middle East

    Iran Hero Pilot Shahbazi 'Forced To Retire' Over Sanctions Campaign

    Henry Ridgwell
    A year ago, an Iran Air pilot was hailed as a hero after he safely landed a passenger plane whose front landing gear had failed to open. The captain started a campaign against international sanctions, which he says are making civil aircraft in Iran unsafe. But now he has been forced to retire, for apparently embarrassing the government.

    Cellphone footage posted on the Internet shows Iran Air Flight 742 from Moscow approaching Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on October 18th last year.

    The front landing gear of the 40-year-old Boeing has failed to open. On board are 113 passengers and crew.

    The captain, Houshang Shahbazi, pulls off an extraordinarily smooth landing, keeping the nose up until the last seconds. No one is injured.

    Shahbazi's heroic actions got him an audience with government ministers. He was paraded on TV talk shows.

    "Unfortunately sanctions imposed by Western countries on civilian airlines in Iran have caused a considerable number of plane crashes and led to the deaths of hundreds of passengers," said Shahbazi.

    Shahbazi said that the landing gear failed because of low hydraulic pressure - caused by wear and tear to aging parts.

    "It is not fair for ordinary people to become victims of political tension between governments, and lose their lives to such issues," Shahbazi added.  "I ask you, who are the main decision makers and lawmakers of the world, to reconsider this type of sanction placed on Iran."

    That appeal appears to have angered the Iranian government.

    On his Facebook page, Shahbazi says he has now been forced to retire nine years early after "refusing to make a pledge not to engage in any social activity."

    The Iranian government has offered no explanation.

    But Shahbazi's campaign has highlighted the fact that sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program are starting to bite hard - something the Iranian government wants to hide, says Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

    "There is pretty much a blanket ban on all U.S. trade with Iran and civilian aircraft parts don't fall into the humanitarian exemption from this," Fitzpatrick noted.  "I think it's very unfortunate that the Iranian people are really suffering under the sanctions. And there is a way out. I wish the Iranian government would see that way and take it."

    U.S. and European Union officials say the sanctions are vital to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment program. Tehran denies claims that it is trying to build an atomic bomb.

    "Iran is finding it very difficult to obtain parts and ingredients for its missile program and for some elements of its nuclear program," added Fitzpatrick.  "The nuclear program continues to expand, but not at the pace that Iran had planned. The second way that sanctions have worked is that they have brought Iran to the negotiating table."

    Unless there is a diplomatic breakthrough, aviation experts say Iran will have continue maintaining its aging fleet of aircraft using parts bought on the black market.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    October 24, 2012 1:38 PM
    Excellent news, the sanctions are putting a grip on Iran, what they were supposed to do. It's really easy Iran, you abide by world agreements on nuclear treaty, or you get your hand smacked. Which is it? I think Iran has had too many chances already. Either you abide, or you don't and if you don't the world will put an end to your activities.

    These are just stupid decisions made by the Iranian government, any of the numerous Iranian people I know hate their government.The people of Iran are wonderfull people, I wish them no harm.

    There is lots of talk that if Nato or Israel takes out the nuclear plants, immediatly the people of Iran will revolt against their government and kick them out of power. This would actually be a great thing. Iranian government is walking a thin line.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    October 24, 2012 11:54 AM
    Hitler asked his engineers to manufacture a car that could cross the desert without using radiator cooling - that is water. Ahmadinejad is experimenting with the lives of Iranians to see how he can be another Hitler to circumvent the sanctions, reach the far ends of the world and conquer every nation. Fortunately Ahmadinejad leaves office June 2013, but he is not the only problem Iran has. In fact he is only a 5.1% of Iran's problems. The real problem is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the so-called spiritual leader of Iran. He will not wake up from his dream of ruling the world until his dramatic end, which will suit that of Adolf Hitler.

    by: jerseyboy54 from: USA
    October 23, 2012 6:08 PM
    if thay spent less money on there hi teck motor boats thay would have the money to fix there planes this is another snowjob with all that oil money thay say thay have this should not be a problem thats right there oil money is a third of what it should be and there money is worthless and there people are ready to revolt

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora