Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi sent its latest mid-size Superjet 100 to Tehran on February 12 in a bid to get the local airlines to buy the plane now they no longer need US permission for the sale, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Russia has been eager to sign Iran up to acquiring its latest airliner, but several faults with the plane’s tail-end and other safety issues are believed to have led to hesitation about the purchase among Iran’s aviation authorities. However, the latest explanation for the slow pace of purchasing was the report that the planes would require an OFAC licence due to 10% of their parts coming from US manufacturers.
According to Maqsoud Asadi Samani, Secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines, Sukhoi’s new plane has had modifications and no longer requires a US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) permission due to parts now being bought or purchased elsewhere.
Under the US sanctions, manufacturers selling planes to Iran need a license from the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) if at least 10% of the plane's components are of American origin.
The official described the Superjet 100 as an ideal regional plane as it has less than that required amount. According to previous announcements, the country may snap up 100 of the jets.
The aircraft is a twin-engine plane made by Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company. It can transport up to 98 passengers over a distance of 2,700 miles and costs around $36mn in its basic configuration. The jet made its maiden flight in May 2008.
The latest figure given about this model is $10mn cheaper than the price quoted by Sukhoi in 2017. It is not known of the planemaker is offering the Iranians a lower cost to boost production in Russia.
Iran is believed to be planning the purchase of some 230 new jets in the coming half-decade with several more mid-size Airbuses arriving over the next year. However, recent protestations by the US Trump Administration against selling Boeing jets to Iran may force the Iranian airlines to move to make more orders from Russia.
Russia’s aeroplane manufacturers have struggled to gain the attention of Iran’s airlines since the relaxing of economic sanctions against Tehran in January 2016. Meanwhile, Airbus, Embraer, ATR, and Bombardier have all signed deals with the Islamic Republic, with some of their planes already arriving.
Exactly a year ago, Iran declined to purchase the order for reasons not given at the time. However, according to aviation experts in Iran, the country was concerned about technical issues regarding Russian jets and the Sukhoi’s overall build quality.