Economy, Business And Markets

Russia Courts Iran to Sell Controversial Aircraft

Russia Courts Iran to Sell Controversial AircraftRussia Courts Iran to Sell Controversial Aircraft

About 100 of Russia’s newest aircraft could be in service in Iran, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

“Russia’s most modern commercial jet, the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ 100), can be partly localized by Iranian producers if Tehran makes the political decision to purchase readymade aircraft,” Rogozin told Rossiya 24 TV during a two-day trip to Iran. He arrived in Tehran on Tuesday.

Iran is planning to renew its aging civil air fleet after years of western sanctions imposed over its nuclear program crippled the sector.

“If Tehran agrees to purchase SSJ 100, we will discuss partial localization of production in Iran,” TASS quoted Rogozin as saying.    

While in Iran, Rogozin also paid a visit to the city of Isfahan and toured local aerospace facilities, where several domestically produced aircraft were on display. He suggested that the facility was capable of running the project.

“Now I am fully convinced that there are all the required resources, given a political decision is made to resume comprehensive industrial collaboration with Russia, in particular in the aviation sector, so that the Iranians can carry out the work on their territory,” he said.

Earlier this month, Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said Iran has no plans to buy SSJ 100.

“Before any acquisition, we need to make sure about the safety of those planes,” IRNA quoted the minister as saying on November 9.

Although some argue that Russian airplanes’ lower prices compared to other major aircraft manufacturers is worth considering them as a viable option, many believe safety comes first. There is serious concern among Iranians over the safety of Sukhoi, following crashes in the past.

According to Aviation expert Alireza Shirzad, SSJ 100, which are actually copies of an Airbus model, have been manufactured to function in cold weather, which increases safety risks considering Iran’s relatively warmer climate, adding that purchasing planes from top manufacturers would guarantee easier access to spare parts, while spare parts for Russian planes are not available as easily and cheaply.

Many believe that with the lifting of sanctions, Iran will have better alternatives such as the Brazilian Embraer conglomerate, which is the third largest manufacturer after Airbus and Boeing.

In an interview with broadcaster France 2 and Europe 1 radio last week, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would probably sign a deal to buy Airbus aircraft during a planned visit to France, which had been scheduled for November 16-17. The visit was later canceled due to a series of terrorist attacks claimed by the IS militant group.