On Mar 11th 2018 Iran's AIB released their preliminary report in Persian reporting that according to FDR and CVR the aircraft had been handed over to Yasuj Tower, the autopilot was set to 15,000 feet. Descending through 15,600 feet the crew activated the anti-ice systems. The aircraft levelled off at 15,000 feet on autopilot, the crew set the QNH to 1021 and maintained 15000 feet for about one minute. Then the engines were reduced to idle, the speed reduced to 200 KIAS with the angle of attack increasing, the engines get slightly accelerated. The speed continued to decrease and reached 129 KIAS (minimum maneouvering speed 132 KIAS), the pitch reaches 15 degrees nose up, the engines accelerate to 67% torque. The altitude target is set to 14,000 feet and the aircraft begins to descend at about 600fpm. The speed further reduces to 117 KIAS, a stall warning activates, the crew disengages the autopilot, the aircraft rolls 20 degrees to the left, the pitch reduces to about 9 degrees nose down. Descending through 14200 feet at 137 KIAS the autopilot gets re-engaged, the aircraft rolls right by 12 degrees, the pitch increases to 5 degrees nose down. A GPWS warning "TERRAIN AHEAD! PULL UP!" activates, the autopilot is disengaged, the GPWS warning continues for 12 seconds until impact.
The AIB continued that there was no technical malfunction of the aircraft, the engines operated in accordance to pilot inputs, all aircraft systems supplied the crew with valid data. Due to the cloud cover the crew remained unaware of the mountains ahead until 2 seconds before impact and rolled the aircraft sharply left in order to avoid the terrain.
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The AIB stated that the crew should have maintained 17,000 feet in accordance with the flight plan, however, descended the aircraft to 15,000 feet followed by a target altitude of 14,000 feet on the autopilot contrary to flight rules. In addition, while the crew was permitted to conduct the flight with the weather data available at the time of departure, the latest weather information provided by Yasuj Tower indicating clouds up to 15,000 feet prohibited the approach to Yasuj according to company procedures due to cloud cover present at the aerodrome, the crew should have diverted to Shiraz or Isfahan planned as alternate aerodromes. Pilot discussions according to the CVR confirm the presence of cloud up to 15,000 feet confirming the accuracy of the weather report by Yasuj Tower. Although the aerodrome was still more than 10km away the crew appeared to be confident the area would be in visual meteorologic conditions. The AIB warns that all of this is first interpretation of first investigation results and is not to be taken as cause of the accident.