(Updates with Iranian airlines in third paragraph, operating costs in sixth.)
Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- A model of the Antonov-158 airliner jointly built by Iran and Ukraine’s Antonov Co. may be in use in Iran as early as 2013, said Iran’s state-owned Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Co.
The Persian Gulf country will buy two Ukrainian-made Antonov-158s, after a test flight of the aircraft earlier this month, Mohammad-Ali Sirati, managing director of the Iranian aircraft company, was cited as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The countries then will start to jointly build the aircraft next year, Sirati, whose company will be in charge of the project, said in Tehran yesterday. Some 30 percent of each plane will be made in Iran, state-run media reported.
Iran has been trying to modernize its foreign-built fleet of jetliners amid international sanctions that block purchases from suppliers such as Chicago-based Boeing Co. and Toulouse, France-based Airbus SAS. Iran’s airlines say the restrictions on purchases of aircraft and parts force them to buy used planes and get spare parts on the secondary market, hampering their competitiveness. Iran, three times bigger than France, needs planes to meet the needs of a population of almost 75 million.
Iran requires about 80 Antonov-158s, with their partial manufacturing domestically costing the country “millions of dollars,” Abbas Falah, managing director of Pars Aviation Development Investment Co., said today, according to IRNA. Falah said the contract with Antonov has yet to be completed.
Iran is under four rounds of United Nations Security Council sanctions because of its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies say is a cover for developing weapons. The U.S. stepped up measures against Iran last year, targeting foreign suppliers of aviation fuel and other refined-oil products.
The Antonov-158, a bigger version of the Antonov-148, can carry as many as 99 passengers. The aircraft has low operating costs, making it appropriate for Iran’s domestic and regional routes, IRNA said.
Iran and Ukraine already jointly build Iran-140s, which can hold 52 passengers and are used inside the Persian Gulf country for short flights, Manouchehr Manteqi, managing director of the state-run Aviation Industries Organization said Oct. 4. Iran built its first Iran-140 passenger plane in 2003 after purchasing the production license for the Antonov-140 from Ukraine in 2000, the state-run Press TV news channel said yesterday. The aircraft is also being manufactured by Iran’s Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Co.
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