Iran to Build Mid-Range An-148 Passenger Jet

A00706056.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Ukrainian aviation official said Iran intends to purchase and later produce a licensed version of a Ukraine’s Antonov 148 mid-range passenger jet.

Dmitro Kiva, chairman of the Kiev-headquartered Antonov aerospace factory, said Iran “will fully participate” in the subsequent production of the aircraft.

The An-148 is a twin-engine high-wing passenger plane designed for operation at rough airfields. Ukraine developed the aircraft during the 1990s and certified the single flying prototype in February 2007.

Discussions between Antonov and Iran’s national aviation authority would focus on making the series produced An-148 suitable for Iranian flight and ground conditions, he said.

“The Iranians are absolutely interested, they want to go forward on this,” Khiva said.

Iranian commitment to participate in Ukraine’s An-148 program would be a boon for the former Soviet republic’s aerospace industry, which has struggled to find customers for passenger aircraft designed by the Antonov firm following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Some 16 Russian or Ukrainian airlines, and Cuba’s national Cubania de Aviacion have stated an intent to purchase the An-148 once production has begun.

Havana-headquartered Cubania is scheduled to receive the first three planes, but no delivery date has been set. More than 50 An-148 aircraft are on order through 2012, according to Antonov company statements, the Interfax news agency reported.

Iran already cooperates with Ukraine and Russia in the production and operation of Antonov’s An-140, a twin-engine short-range turboprop aimed at the regional and local hop markets.

Iran operates three of the eleven currently flying An-140 planes. Two more of the total thirteen produced An-140s crashed killing all on board, in 2002 and 2005 respectively.

The An-148 passenger jet once in production will sell for between 18 and 22 million dollars depending on configuration, according to an Antonov company statement.

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