U.S. House Votes To Block Airliner Sales to Iran

 - November 17, 2016, 3:12 PM

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to bar the Treasury Department from authorizing commercial aircraft sales to Iran in the latest effort by Republicans to undermine President Barack Obama’s landmark nuclear deal with the country. Divided mainly along party lines, the House voted 234 to 174 for a bill prohibiting any U.S. transaction connected with the export of passenger airplanes to Iran.

The bill would next need to pass the Senate, which, although Republican controlled, failed to pass an earlier bill this summer that would have blocked sales of commercial aircraft with a certain amount of U.S. content. At the time President Obama vowed to veto any such bill, and this latest measure would likely face the same fate. In any case, during the recent election campaign, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to unilaterally abandon the nuclear deal with Iran when he takes office in January.

In September, Airbus and Boeing each received licenses from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to move ahead with sales of airliners to Iran Air. In the case of Airbus, the license—the first of two for which the European airframer applied—covered “short-term” deliveries of 17 A320s and A330s to the flag carrier. For Boeing, the OFAC license allows it to complete negotiations over a Memorandum of Agreement with Iran Air covering 80 airliners of various type, including 737s, 777s and 787s. Boeing has also agreed to help arrange the lease of another 29 of its jets to Iran Air. Separately, Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR continues to wait for its OFAC license to proceed with the sale of 20 ATR 72-600s to Iran Air.

In a statement released Thursday, Boeing declined to react to the latest House bill, expressing only caution against speculation about the final outcome. “We are following the U.S. government’s guidance in dealing with USG-approved Iranian airlines, and will continue to do so,” it said. “It’s premature to speculate on the outcome of possible legislation or policy changes.”

​Russian aerospace companies participated in this week's Iran Air Show on Kish Island, actively soliciting products such as the MC-21 airliner, which competes with Boeing and Airbus narrobodies. They also made the case for new civil aircraft engines such as the PD-14 turbofan, which the Russian Aircraft Engine Corporation developed as an alternative powerplant to Pratt & Whitney's Geared Turbofan.