After it was concluded that the remaining five detained crew members of the Emtrasur Cargo Boeing 747-300M had no terrorism links, they were returned home on October 20th. And all that was left of the four-month-long international judicial and diplomatic saga was the aircraft itself, with the US government formally requesting to confiscate the Boeing widebody.
A recap of the drama
But why does the US have any interest in the grounded aircraft? The answer lies in the aircraft’s relatively complex history. Registered as YV-3531 and with the serial number 23413, the Boeing 747-300M was operating under Emtrasur Cargo when it found itself stuck in this mess. Emstratur Cargo was the subsidiary of the Venezuelan flag carrier Conviasa, which the US Department of Treasury currently sanctions.
To make matters slightly more complicated and worse, the Boeing widebody was previously owned by Iranian state carrier Mahan Air before being sold to Emtrasur Cargo under a 20-year cooperation plan to overcome the sanctions imposed on them by the US. Upon this discovery, the US Department of Justice emphasized that the transference of the jumbo jet from a designated Iranian carrier to South America was a clear violation of the US Export Control Laws.
It is worth noting that the US sanctioned both the previous Iranian owner and the current Venezuelan owner of the Boeing 747-300M, albeit for different reasons. The US DOJ was using this justification as them breaking the law, and the initial case file to the Prosecutor’s Officer stated:
“The plane was under the control of Venezuela’s Emtrasur, which allowed the re-export of the aircraft between Caracas, Venezuela, Tehran, Iran, and Moscow, Russia, without the permission of the US government.”
With this violation, the US government claimed it had every right to seize the cargo aircraft and has been attempting to do so since August. However, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro then criticized the US government for trying to rob a Venezuelan aircraft and claim it as its own. Mahan Air also refuted claims that one of its aircraft was seized in Argentina, consistently emphasizing that Venezuela owned the aircraft and it had no ties to it anymore.
Get all the latest aviation news right here on Simple Flying!
Another attempt at confiscation
A couple of months have passed since the first filing, and it remains clear the US government has not given up on trying to seize the unfortunate aircraft. The latest request for confiscation was filed by the Prosecutor’s Officer in the Court of the District of Columbia, asking that the grounded Boeing 747-300M be handed over to the US Government.
In the request filing, it was highlighted that the confiscation action came from a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Commerce into the unauthorized transfer of the Boeing 747-300M from a sanctioned Iranian entity to a third party.
Photo: Getty Images
The filing also emphasizes that the transfer conflicts with a Temporary Denial Order against Mahan Air for the unauthorized addition of six aircraft of US origin. The Temporary Denial Order is supposedly in successive renewals, and it disallows Mahan Air, or any person directly or indirectly related to the airline, from participating in transactions related to the six aircraft of US origin.
With these reasonings in the filing, the US government is confident that its request to seize the aircraft will be successful this time.
- Stock Code:
- Date Founded:
- Dave Calhoun
- Headquarters Location:
- Chicago, USA
- Key Product Lines:
- Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 757, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Boeing 787
- Business Type: