1049 GMT February 17, 2018
The regional turboprop manufacturer ATR delivered eight aircraft to Iran Air in 2017 and plans to deliver a further 12 by the end of this year, as part of Iran’s effort to replace its antiquated civil air fleet, atwonline.com reported.
ATR won its Iran Air order following the lifting of Western sanctions in return for Iran rolling back its nuclear program.
The Trump administration’s unhappiness with the 2015 nuclear deal, which has seen Washington DC recently impose new sanctions on the Middle East nation, potentially puts the continued supply of Western aircraft to Iran at risk, but ATR CEO Christian Scherer hopes ATR will be allowed to continue to work with Tehran.
Iran Air is using the new ATRs to revitalize domestic routes and bring people from remote parts of Iran to Tehran to expose them to the capital’s expanding economy.
“This regional development is very powerful for them and it’s frankly very benign from a geopolitical and security aspect,” Scherer said. “So we are hopeful at ATR that our business opportunities with the Iranians will go unchallenged.”
“There isn’t any more powerful tool for economic emancipation than communications,” Scherer said at the turboprop manufacturer’s annual results announcement in Toulouse.
“When they started taking delivery, they realized they could fly these aircraft much more [than their elderly predecessors] because they were new and reliable and actually worked.”
One hurdle to overcome was training up sufficient Iranian pilots on the new aircraft, so ATR dispatched a number of instructors to fly the line with their Iranian counterparts from the start of operations to assist and offer some on-the-job training.
Overall, the regional market is experiencing a pilot shortage, both in terms of candidates and training capabilities, Scherer said. ATR is addressing the problem by investing in simulators.
Iran is also renovating its aging fleet for international or long-distance flights under deals signed with Airbus and Boeing to buy a total of 180 passenger jets.
The country has received three Airbus jets in 2017 - one Airbus A321 and two Airbus A33 - and was due to get another by year-end which did not come through. The first Boeing is due around May 2018, Press TV wrote.
The deal with Boeing, signed last December, is for the purchase of 80 passenger planes. In January 2017, Iran Air also signed agreements to buy 118 planes from Airbus, before cutting the number to around 100.
Given the type of the orders, the total value of the three contracts for the purchase of 200 aircraft from Airbus, Boeing and ATR is less than $18 billion.