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Official: Iran, Russia discuss joint production of passenger planes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows a fleet of four Iran Air ATR-72-600s photographed at Francazal airport in Toulouse, France prior to their delivery to Iran.

Iran and Russia are discussing joint production of passenger planes with a capacity of 70-150 seats, Deputy Industry, Mining and Trade Minister Manochehr Manteghi says.

Manteghi announced the plan at the opening of the 11th Iran International Airshow & Aerospace Exhibition which he described as a starting point for strategic cooperation and advancement in the country’s aviation industry.  

“One of the important discussions of this exhibition is networking and providing a platform to achieve the desired accomplishments in the aviation industry,” he said.

Manteghi said some of the results of the previous exhibitions were the placement of knowledge-based companies in the supply chain and manufacturing of airplanes and helicopters, as well as the development of UAVs in the commercial sectors of the country, and the creation of a consortium between technological companies for the design and development of airplanes and helicopters.

In August, the head of the Civil Aviation Organization unveiled plans to produce a 50-seat passenger plane as part of efforts to counter the West which he said is waging a full-scale war against Iran’s aviation sector.

“The idea and plan to build a passenger plane has been around for years. It is an order and strategy that the Islamic Republic is following,” Mohammad Mohammadi-Bakhsh said.

According to Mohammadi-Bakhsh, three platforms of 50-, 72- and 150-seat passenger planes have been prepared, wherein the country’s needs have been taken into account.

The production will start with a 50-seat model at the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries Corporation based in the central city of Shahin Shahr, he said.

The civil aviation program includes a 10-year roadmap charting out the direction which it has to take according to the needs of the regional and extra-regional markets. 

Iran’s aviation industry depended on foreign consultants, mainly Americans, before the 1979 Islamic Republic to keep the fleet airworthy, but amid the sanctions the job today is done by Iranian specialists.  

“Sanctions in the aviation sector is a light word. We are in a full-scale war with the West. In this regard, we use all our capacities to make the sanctions ineffective and less effective, which we have been successful so far,” Mohammadi-Bakhsh said then.

Iran had placed orders for purchases of 200 brand new planes from Airbus and Boeing after it reached nuclear deal in 2015. The contracts, however, came to a halt in 2018 after the US Treasury banned the two planemakers from supplying the jets to Iran.

During a brief trade thaw between Iran and the West, Iran signed $36 billion worth of contracts in 2016 to buy airliners from Boeing, Airbus and Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR.

National flag carrier IranAir ordered 100 passenger aircraft from Airbus, 80 from Boeing and 20 from ATR, but the deals depended on US license because of the heavy use of American parts in the planes.

Iran had imported three aircraft from Airbus and 13 from ATR when the US Treasury Department under former president Donald Trump revoked export licenses.

Official have said some of the aircraft delivered under the nuclear agreement require heavy maintenance checks, but the Europeans are not fulfilling their obligations to supply repair components.  

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