ASN Aircraft accident Airbus A300B2-203 EP-IBU Qeshm Island
ASN logo
Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Sunday 3 July 1988
Type:Silhouette image of generic A30B model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Airbus A300B2-203
Operator:Iran Air
Registration: EP-IBU
MSN: 186
First flight: 1982-03-16 (6 years 4 months)
Total airframe hrs:11497
Engines: 2 General Electric CF6-50C2
Crew:Fatalities: 16 / Occupants: 16
Passengers:Fatalities: 274 / Occupants: 274
Total:Fatalities: 290 / Occupants: 290
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:4 km (2.5 mls) SE off Qeshm Island (   Iran)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Bandar Abbas Airport (BND/OIKB), Iran
Destination airport:Dubai Airport (DXB/OMDB), United Arab Emirates
Iran Air flight 451 arrived at Bandar Abbas (BND) from Tehran (THR) at 08:40. The Airbus A300 was to continue to Dubai (DXB) as flight 655. Prior to departure the crew received an enroute clearance to Dubai via the flight planned route A59 and A59W at FL140. The flight took off from runway 21 at 10:17 hours and climbed straight ahead.
Two minutes later, the crew reported leaving 3500 feet for FL140 on Airway A59, estimating MOBET at 06:53 UTC (10:23 Iran time). At 10:24:00 the aircraft passed MOBET out of FL120. At 10:24:43 the Airbus was hit by surface-to-air missiles. The tail and one wing broke off as a result of the explosions. Control was lost and the aircraft crashed into the sea.
The missiles were fired by the US Navy cruiser USS Vincennes. It was operating in the area together with the frigates USS Elmer Montgommery and USS John H. Sides. They were to protect other ships in the area.
At about the time the Airbus took off, the radar aboard the USS Vincennes picked up a brief IFF mode 2 response, which led to the mistaken identification of the Airbus as a hostile F-14 aircraft. The USS Vincennes issued 7 challenges on the Military Air Distress (MAD) frequency 243 MHz, addressed to 'Iranian aircraft', 'Iranian fighter' or 'Iranian F-14'. These messages were followed by three challenges on the IAD (International Air Defence) radio frequency.
Due to increasing tension in the area - on May 17, 1987 an Iraqi Mirage had attacked USS Stark - all aircraft in the area had to monitor 121.5 Mhz: the International Air Defence - IAD radio frequency. There was no response.
Meanwhile radar operators were monitoring the Aegis screens. They reported that the incoming plane was descending with an increasing speed. In fact, the Airbus was climbing. Considering itself and USS Montgomery under aggression, USS Vincennes took the ultimate decision to launch missiles against the perceived hostile target at 10:24:22.
It remains uncertain whether the IR655 flight crew (only able to monitor the IAD, not the MAD frequencies) would have been able to rapidly identify their flight as the subject of the challenges made by the USS Vincennes.

Probable Cause:

CAUSES: "The aircraft was perceived as a military aircraft with hostile intentions and was destroyed by two surface-to-air missiles ."

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: ICAO
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report

Shot down from the ground
Loss of control

» ICAO Adrep Summary 3/88 (#1)
» ICAO Circular 260-AN/154 (27-51)

Follow-up / safety actions

ICAO issued 8 Safety Recommendations

Show all...


photo of Airbus-A300B2-203-EP-IBU
accident date: 03-07-1988
type: Airbus A300B2-203
registration: EP-IBU

This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Bandar Abbas Airport to Dubai Airport as the crow flies is 239 km (149 miles).
Accident location: Exact; as reported in the official accident report.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
languages: languages


Airbus A300

  • 561 built
  • 5th loss
  • 2nd fatal accident
  • The worst accident
» safety profile

  • The worst accident
» safety profile

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314