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Iran aviation chief says Pakistani pilot was to blame for near miss

Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization’s chief says air traffic controllers were not to blame for a near miss between Pakistani planes flying in the Iranian airspace on July 24.

Iran’s aviation chief says a near-miss between two Pakistani planes flying in the Iranian airspace on July 24 was due to an unauthorized decision by the pilot of one of the planes to descend to a dangerous altitude.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, president of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) Mohammad Mohammadi Bakhsh criticized as “unprofessional” remarks made this week by a spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines which blamed the near miss on human error by Iranian air traffic controllers.

Mohammadi Bakhsh said the pilot of one of the flights that were bound for Peshawar had misunderstood Iranian air traffic control and decided to drop to an altitude that could have led to a collision with another PIA flight bound for Dubai.

“We have the transcription of the conversation between the pilot and the country’s airspace control center. The pilot had a false understanding of the controller’s advice and reduced its altitude without clearance,” he was quoted by the official IRNA news agency.

“We will take legal action on this issue in the international (aviation) organizations,” said the official, who also serves as a deputy to Iran’s transportation minister.

The comments come as the CAO has yet to announce the official results of an investigation into the alleged near miss between the two PIA planes.

CAO officials said earlier this week that they were waiting for control center documents and reports from the pilots of the planes to further investigate.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan claimed this week that pilots of the two planes had managed to correct their path and avoid a collision based on warnings issued by a cockpit system.

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