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Transporte Aereo Rioplatense


Transporte Aereo Rioplatense SACL was an Argentinian cargo airline. It operated in the 1970s and 1980s.

History

The airline was set up in December 1969 by Carlos F. Martinez Guerrero and several of his associates. Operations commenced in July 1970, however, the first aircraft, a Canadair CL-44 freighter did not commence service with the airline until 1971. Flights with the CL-44 commenced between Buenos Aires and Houston, on which cattle were transported, and the airline quickly established itself operating worldwide ad hoc charters, leading to the addition of three more of the aircraft type. The airline had regular flights to Houston and Miami, and to Basel, Switzerland from September 1976. The airline acquired its first Boeing 707 freighter from Dan-Air in 1978, and a second one a year later. The arrival of the 707s lead to the gradual retirement from service of the CL-44s.

Involvement in IranContra affair

Israel and Argentina collaborated with the United States in Oliver North's program to send arms to Iran to assist in arming Nicaraguan contras. Transporte Aereo Rioplatense, which was revealed to be operated by high-ranking officials in the Argentine Air Force, transported military equipment from Israel to Iran, in support of the latter during its war with Iraq.

Scotsman Stuart Allen McCafferty was hired to transport 360 tons of United States-made tank spare parts and ammunition from Tel Aviv to Tehran, and had a Swiss partner, arms dealer Andreas Jenni. McCafferty allegedly approached numerous United States charter airlines, offering them US$175,000 to operate 15 flights which would carry "pharmaceuticals" between Israel and Iran, but none of them were interested. In June 1981, McCafferty travelled to Buenos Aires, where he persuaded Transporte Aereo Rioplatense to charter him one of their CL-44 cargo aircraft.

After completing the first two round-flights from Tel Aviv to Tehran, via Larnaca in Cyprus, the airline was returning to Cyprus after having delivered the third tranche of cargo to Iran, when on 18 July 1981 it was shot down near the Soviet-Turkish border by a MiG-25 of the Soviet Air Force. After heading to towards the Turkish border, the aircraft had gone off course, and strayed into Soviet airspace in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, which led to the Soviets to scramble a MiG-25 to intercept the aircraft. According to Soviet reports, the crew failed to respond to radio calls and visual signals from the pilots of the fighter aircraft. The crew of the CL-44 attempted to get away from the area, and the Soviet pilot directed his aircraft into the tail of the escaping aircraft, causing both aircraft to crash near Yerevan in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Soviet fighter pilot managed to eject to safety, but the 4 occupants of the CL-44  3 Argentinian crew and McCafferty  died. Jenni disputed these events, claiming that the aircraft was shot down inside Turkish territory.

Transporte Aereo Rioplatense continue to operate into the 1980s, but had ceased operations by 1989.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Transporte Aereo Rioplatense


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