Economy, Domestic Economy

Buying Russian Planes… Maybe Some Other Time!

Buying Russian Planes… Maybe Some Other Time!Buying Russian Planes… Maybe Some Other Time!

Despite general reluctance in Iran to fly in Russian-made airplanes due to their poor safety record, recent unconfirmed reports say there have been discussions on possible acquisition of Russian passenger jets.

The Russian daily Kommersant cited Iran’s Vice President for Science and Technology, Sorena Sattari, as saying that Tehran is mulling the purchase of Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 planes—a class of twin-engine regional passenger jet.

“If Russia offered us good financial terms, a lot of our airlines would be willing to buy the planes,” the newspaper quoted the Iranian official as saying on Friday on the sidelines of the MAKS-2015 air show, which held in Moscow August 25-30.

Also on Thursday, Russian news agency Sputnik International quoted the country’s deputy minister of industry and trade Andrei Boginsky as saying that Iran has expressed interest in buying dozens of Sukhoi airplanes. “We are currently holding negotiations, which, we hope, will yield results,” he said.

Iran is currently planning to upgrade its worn-out air fleet, which has been hard hit by years of western sanctions. A July 14 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers stipulates sanctions relief in exchange for limitations on the country’s nuclear energy program.

Rumors of possible dealing with Russia, however, were previously dismissed by Iran Civil Aviation Organization.

After Sputnik International quoted former caretaker director of CAO, Mohammad Khodakarami as saying early in August that Iran was planning to hold talks on the purchase of Russian passenger planes, the organization released an official disclaimer saying Khodakarami “has not expressed any views on purchase of new aircraft in any interview with Russian media.”

CAO added that “for the sake of renovating the national fleet, the organization will review all the options with due care and will not limit its choices to a particular company or country.”

The organization also stressed that it will consider all the technical and safety aspects in making purchases.

Although some argue that Russian-made airplanes’ lower prices compared to other major aircraft manufacturers is worth considering them as a viable option, many believe safety comes first and 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.

 “The poor performance of Russian planes such as Tupolev has made Iranian airlines lose faith in Russian aircraft,” says secretary of Iran’s Aviation Companies Association, Maghsood Asadi Samani.

Another aviation expert Alireza Shirzad agrees and says Russian airplanes Sukhoi Superjet 100, which are actually copies of an Airbus model, have crashed in every single test flight in Indonesia.

He says Russian planes are manufactured to function in cold weather, which increases safety risks considering Iran’s relatively warmer climate.

Shirzad added 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.

After all, according to former CAO deputy head Alireza Manzari, any negotiations between government officials do not necessarily lead to a purchase as airlines will eventually make their own decisions based on needs.