Canada’s Transportation Safety Board on Monday said Iran has given investigators permission to analyze the “black box” flight data recorders from the Ukrainian passenger plane shot down by a missile that killed 176 people including 57 Canadians.
TSB Chair Kathy Fox said Iran has invited the agency to take part as an observer for the download and analysis of the "black boxes.” She said the agency hopes to play a larger role in the investigation.
"We are working very hard to build trust daily in order for us to brought in," Fox said. "Canada's role is evolving. It remains to be seen how far that will go."
Natacha Van Themsche, director of investigations, said Canadian experts have also been invited to inspect the wreckage and the crash site. The step is unusual, given that the downed plane was not a Canadian airline and the crash did not occur in Canada.
Two Canadian investigators have obtained visas to travel to Iran and a second team with expertise in recorder download and analysis will be sent.
The Jan. 8 crash killed everyone on board, mostly Iranians and Iranian-Canadians. After initially pointing to a technical failure and insisting the armed forces were not to blame, Iranian authorities on Saturday admitted accidentally shooting it down in the face of mounting evidence and accusations by Western leaders.
Van Themsche said the agency will also investigate why Iranian airspace was not closed to civilian traffic when Iran launched attacks on Iraqi military bases in retaliation for a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the downing a Canadian tragedy because 138 of the passengers were headed for Canada. They included students, newlyweds, doctors and parents. The youngest was a 1-year-old girl. The other passengers included citizens from Iran, Sweden, Afghanistan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.