Saturday, 18 July 2015
27 March 2023
Interview with a former Iran Air flight attendant

“These new planes that are assembled with old ones”

2011 January 25

Ardavan Roozbeh / radio koocheh

Translated by Avideh Motmaen-Far

With 2 hours delay, finally the plane left Tehran for Orumieh at 6PM instead of 4. The Watchtower of Orumieh said that they had a communication with the pilot 10 minutes before the crash, ”the weather was bad”, ”the plane was not able to land”, exactly like other reports of plane crashes. The plane flies outside of its destined path and then people from a village close to Orumieh reported that an iron giant has fallen there.

And yes! Once again, a plane tragedy happened in Iran. This plane crash shows once again  that a Boeing727 which is nearly 40 years old could not have a safe or even a low-risk flight. Just like other issues in Iran, it is human life that has become worthless; like instantly decided executions, plane crashes and car accidents, death of drug addicts or those who get shot ”accidentally” in  the streets. The common denominator of all these events is that people lives are worthless in the vast country of ours, Iran.

In his first statement the provincial governor of West Azerbaijan, happily said that nearly 50 passengers came out of the plane all by themselves and others were still getting out too and the Minister of Transportation also stated that ”happily enough”  the crash had very few victims. Behbahani said: “Thanks God! There are few victims in this crash.”

Although Masoomi, the head of Iran Department of Urgent Affairs declared that the number of victims were 18, this number is far different from the 72 who was reported to have lost their  lives until now. I can not understand how according to Behbahani, 72 victims among 105 passengers ”is not much”! Is he comparing the death of 72 persons with any other casualties and considers this one not important?

Once again, Officials’ not responding is the Black Box fault! And they promise people to wait until they can decode the Black Box and answer questions about causes of the crash. It is the same old story, it never happened after any other crashes, no one got a report based on other Black Boxes.

Anyways, Iran Air planes also joined the ”flying coffins”. This company have never had a crash before. But it is not the case for many other Iranian airlines. Most of them had crashed so far.

Probably finding the reason of the crash seems not quite depending on decoding the Black Box when a former stewardess in an interview says that flying planes are repaired with parts from inactive older planes. The black fate itself speaks definitely more than the Box.

The crash probably happens because of many reasons and again tens of Iranians die and every thing is as usual due to either bad weather, or pilot’s mistake and the Black Box is not decoded until the atmosphere calms down again. But how long the people must pay for a bunch of fool governors and rulers of a country who do not feel responsible and still not feel secure and comfortable? How long they should pay for those who do not pay themselves and are responsible for this situation?

It is only people of Iran who are paying for the sanctions with these flying coffins.

It is only people of Iran who are paying for the sanctions with these flying coffins

What is important for me in this daily note is a thought about the flight crew, those who are  traveling with these flying coffins every day. Those who are not even counted in the list of victims. How really these flight attendants deal with their job while living on the edge of the blade?

Somayeh Samiezadeh is one of those flight attendants who had flown with these planes countless times. She quit because of hard conditions imposed to them a few years ago. Somayeh Samiezadeh talks about her job difficulties and anxieties. Maybe it is time to keep in mind that they are under heavy pressure in their job.

Please tell us what you felt as a stewardess who have flown before in this very plane that crashed?

”First I could not believe that a crash happened in Iran Air airlines. Because despite the vast sanctions imposed, Iran Air has so skilled pilot that they could manage with dexterity to lead every flight safely to destination. And then when I saw on different websites that it was true and saw the pictures of the crashed plane that I have flown with and walked in so many times I could not believe that it became segmented like this and also could not believe that worse of all, 11 of my colleagues lost their lives in that flight.”

Please explain what are the problems a stewardess would face in Iran?

”It is a common misconception that being a stewardess is a luxurious and high quality job and well paid. But it has so many difficulties that I need to explain in details for you and must tell that stewards of Iran Air are 2 different groups: the contractors and officials ones. Fortunately after I left Iran Air contractor stewards became the Iran Air’s official ones but it still has its  problems. I am still connected with my friends and former colleagues and informed about their situations and their differences with official stewards and hear their complains.”

”Being a Steward means that you are not home most of the time and must dwell somewhere outside hometown or in another country and it is hard and not pleasant for a married couple who have children and also it is difficult even for singles who have other kind of problems. Because our country is an ”Islamic” Republic and issues about Hejab (Islamic veil) are more important than the security. The Security is unfortunately the second important thing.”

”Since the Briefing, when stewards and the chief steward are talking about the flight, kind of plane, the number of passengers and security issues, and review every issue relating to the fight until heading to the plane, they always warn us about Hejab issues. Although we are always very careful about it but you know that when they want to emphasis an issue especially when it is stressed by high ranked officials they can put too much pressure on it.”

The question that comes to my mind is that what was the process of maintaining Iran Air planes? Considering that Iran’s aviation industry is under important sanctions, how did they find parts supplies? These are planes that must be checked everyday and their different parts must be replaced.

I am not an expert in these issues. I can just tell you what I have heard. As I was informed by flight engineers and technicians in between flights, some of Iran Air planes are inactive and do not fly because their flying times are completed and are not allowed to fly anymore. So they became inactive. When a problem occurs for an active plane, with regards to sanctions, they take the parts of an inactive plane and replace the used parts of an active plane with them.”

Don’t you think that because of the large number of flights and timeworn plane that Iran Air and other airlines have, this job becomes just risking your own life?

”I think the only incentive that exists for the crew is flying, the love of flying and the love of their job and the tasks that they are responsible for so they do not think of other issues. Up to now, the fight attendants were relying on Iran Air’s pilots, their skills and dexterity. Still I don’t believe in a ”pilot’s mistake” for this crash. Despite what the Minister of Transportations and other officials have said and are used to accuse other people when a crash happens, I don’t  believe this and no one could say the truth till the Black Box is not decoded. I hope that our country finds its normal situation again and these sanctions are over and people can fly safely.”

You mentioned mental pressures. Is there any body in Iran Air organization for helping with the emotional problems and work pressure that the staff could undergo?

”There was not such a thing in Iran Air when I have worked there and since I am still connected with my colleagues, no one has informed me about such a thing and this shows that the  officials are not well aware of this industry because regarding the emotional issues of flight attendants which is one of the most important things related to this job, they have done nothing. Not only the officials have not done anything for this issue, on the contrary, they even have imposed more pressures of different kinds.”

It is a common misconception that being a stewardess is a luxurious and high quality job and well paid. But it has so many difficulties

What do you feel when such accidents happen, and people lose their lives? And what your other colleagues feel as a flight attendant when they lose their colleagues and the people? What is their reaction?

”I have to mention that we have never had a crash in Iran Air before. There has been some emergency landings but no one was killed and the landing has always been successful. Crashing for Iran Air has never even been thought of before. But unfortunately today this happened and I, as a flight attendant who hear about a crash from Iran Air or any other airlines, I see myself as one of those who were in the plane, and I feel that it should have been very hard and painful for my colleagues.”

It has been said that 95 passengers were there and the flight attendants are not mentioned usually. Is it due to paying less attention to them? And have you and your colleagues expressed your objection because of your job situation and the pressure of it?

”You mentioned an important issue. Because, must be called passengers whoever sits inside a plane; the pilot, the flight attendants, passengers, and security staff, they are all the plane passengers and this represents unfortunately how low the flight attendants are regarded no matter how hard and important their task is.”

”There has always been objections because of this issue. It has been many cases we have lost  many of our colleagues in other airlines and then we heard in news that just the passengers were mentioned although the flight attendants have faced the problem, they mentioned numbers of victims amongst them separately. This shows that the flight attendants still do not have their real value.


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