Any potential thaw in U.S.-Iran relations is unlikely to relax long-standing economic sanctions that have hobbled the latter’s commercial and defense aviation sectors for decades. Most recently, United Nations’ Resolution 1696, in force since 2006 and in response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, has limited Iran’s ability to obtain approved spare and replacement aircraft components and to conduct international financial transactions.
The last three months of 2011 saw “the longest period without a fatal airliner accident in modern aviation history,” according to the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), an independent internet aviation safety information agency.
An IranAir Boeing 727 crashed last night in the suburbs of the city of Orumiyeh in northwestern Iran, killing at least 77 people and injuring 27, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency (FNA).
The global recession didn’t seem to suppress the appetite for new equipment among customers of Russia and the former Soviet Union at this month’s MAKS’2009 airshow in Moscow, where a number of programs, new and established, drew a surprising level of interest from buyers from around the globe.
During the Cold War, the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom) produced the yearly list of items that U.S., European, and Japanese firms were enjoined not to sell to the Soviet Union or any of its client states. The system worked reasonably well, and Soviet military designers were forced to develop their own sophisticated guidance systems, precision machine tools and other advanced technology.
Over the next five years Iran needs some 140 new airliners, half of which would replace a largely outdated fleet. Air transport demand continues to grow as the Iranian economy enjoys high oil revenues and 8 percent annual GDP growth.
Tupolev’s Tu-204 airliner, which has drawn only modest orders in the past several years, has begun to make inroads in several new markets, including Iran. Earlier this year Russia and Iran signed a multi-pronged deal that includes the sale of the Tu-204 and Russian assistance in launching Iranian communications satellites.
Officials from Stork-Fokker Services are meeting with IranAir’s new chairman and managing director Saeid Hesami here at the show to talk over plans to send another three Fokker 100s from Brazil’s TAM to the Islamic Republic’s national carrier. IranAir has become Fokker Services’ best customer in the region primarily because a U.S. trade embargo limits the shipment to Iran of aircraft with more than 10-percent U.S. content.
Western powers increasingly characterize Iran as a potential cause for instability in the Middle East. The U.S. and its allies charge Tehran with funding and supporting the insurgency in Iraq, maintaining a well-developed ballistic missile program and seeking its own nuclear arsenal.
Airbus is competing with Russia’s Ilyushin-Finance Co. (IFC) and Tupolev for a Syrian government tender to supply seven airliners to Syrian Air. When Syria issued the tender in February this year, the stated requirement called for four 185- to 225-seat narrowbodies as replacements for six Boeing 727s and three Tupolev Tu-154s, and three 280- to 320-seat widebodies to replace a pair of Boeing 747SPs.
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