Iranian President Believed Killed In Helicopter Crash


Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is among at least four passengers who are thought to have been killed in the crash of Bell 212 helicopter in a mountainous area of the country. The crash occurred in rain and fog near the border with Azerbaijan in the northwest corner of the country. Also on board was Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and two senior Azerbaijani officials. The crash site has apparently been found, but rain and mud are complicating rescue and recovery efforts.

Raisi is the second in command of the Iranian government behind Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, who is the supreme leader and makes all the decisions on foreign policy and the country’s nuclear program. He said there would be no disruption to government operations, although Raisi was thought to be next in line for the supreme leader job. Iranian law says there has to be an election in 50 days to replace Raisi if it is confirmed he’s dead.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. I wonder what the status of maintenance / parts is on those helicopters since they’re Bell products? I’m sure we’re not giving them access to the logistics needed to best maintain them? It appears weather was the culprit but … still … inquiring minds over at the NTSB would want to know?

    • Pictures of site and wreckage now available. Looks similar to Kobe Bryant. Flying up a valley and failed to top a ridge getting out of it. Hard landing indeed.

  2. We get the blame for everything else, so I guess it’s the US’s fault because it was a US helicopter. If he had a Russian one, he would have died long ago!

  3. In the 1970s I worked for Lycoming that made engines for the UH-1 that the Bel212 was based on. We had contracts with the Iranian Airforce (pre Islamic Revolution). We would get engines back from Iran and they would be making half of rated power. We would clean them and get piles of sand and gunk out of them, and they would make a bit more power. We would tear them apart and find many compressor blades and more than a few turbine blades just missing.
    The moral of the story is Iran is inherently a nasty environment for turbines add to that lackluster maintenance, include the terrain, the fog and altitude and I am surprised that any ship made it back.

  4. “Iranian law says there has to be an election in 50 days to replace Raisi…”
    That’s a laugh. The Supreme leader will choose the guy and everyone will vote to approve him. It’s too bad that Khamanei wasn’t on board as well.

  5. This could be a very bad thing. Sometimes it’s better to know the devil you are dealing with.

  6. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian’s and the son of current 85 year old supreme leader Ali Khamenei were the 2 top candidates to become the next leader. Amirabdollahian’s death is driving a lot of the conspiracy theories.

    If forced to bet a $1… The truth is likely due to flying a helicopter an American helicopter in disrepair due to sanctions and the foggy icy weather conditions. Common safety features US GA pilots use everyday like an iPad with terrain and active weather are not available there.