IAC Plans to Revamp Airport Equipment
Iran Airports Company needs $250 million worth of “radar equipment and navigation systems”, the CEO of Iran Airports Company said.
“We’re planning to revamp all our airport equipment to increase our safety and security level,” Rahmatollah Mahabadi was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
Upgrading airport equipment has been on the agenda of the government. In April, the government signed an agreement with French aerospace company Thales Group to buy three Airport Surveillance Radars for Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport and airports in the southern cities of Shiraz and Bandar Abbas.
The new state-of-the-art radars were to replace the worn-out equipment that have been in use in Iran’s airports, including one in Mehrabad which is 18 years old, to facilitate landings.
“We are not in good condition in terms of airport equipment,” Mahabadi said. “Our airports’ lighting system, for instance, dates back to 45 years ago.”
The dilapidated equipment, he said, is increasing maintenance costs for airports.
“All of our airports, except Imam Khomeini International Airport, are running at losses. Even Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport with some 400 takeoffs and landings a day is not making a profit,” he said, explaining that the airports’ operational costs outweigh revenues.
In August, the Aviation High Council announced it would permit investors with as little as 300 billion rials ($8.57 million) and even one plane with less than 100 seats to establish airlines provided they limit their flights to smaller suburban airports. The move was aimed at improving the performance of airports.
Mahabadi added that IAC is planning to acquire a couple of flight inspection aircraft, in addition to the one it bought a few years ago.
“By purchasing a flight inspection plane, most of our problems related to control of navigation equipment have been resolved. But we need two other flight inspection planes,” he said.
Iran unveiled a new Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft used for flight inspection early-June.
The new US-made twin-turboprop is used for the periodic evaluation of navigational aids, such as flight procedures and electronic signals, in line with standards set by organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that the facilities are safe.
The new plane, which was delivered before the lifting of sanctions to state-run Iran Airports Company is “the newest and the best such product in the world”, Mahabadi said back then.
Iran lost a flight inspection plane two years ago. The Dassault Falcon 20E crashed on the eastern shore of the southern Kish Island in February 2014. The crash limited the Islamic Republic’s flight inspection capabilities and raised safety concerns.
Experts have praised the purchase as “strategic”, enabling increased safety and credibility for Iran’s aviation industry, besides reducing the country’s reliance on foreign states for performing flight inspection and airport calibration services.
Although Ukraine and Pakistan have offered to perform the operations, Tehran remains reluctant amid security concerns.
Following the lifting of nuclear sanctions in January, as part of the July deal between Tehran and world powers, Iran has taken several measures, including the purchase of new planes, airport facilities and navigation aids, to upgrade its aviation industry so that it can regain its past stature in the region.