Iran's state-owned aircraft manufacturing company HESA has signed a letter of intent with Antonov for 50 An-148 regional jets for delivery in the next eight years.
The bulk of the 70-seaters will be assembled locally from kits, although an initial few are expected to be supplied directly from the KiGAZ Aviant plant in Kiev and the VASO factory in Voronezh. The contract, which is expected to be finalised next year, calls for an increasing level of local production as the programme progresses. HESA has a similar existing deal with Antonov for local production of the An-140 turboprop.
The majority of the 50 An-148s will be delivered to Iranian airlines via HESA, which will also provide aftersales support acting as primary local contactor for MRO services. The LoI calls for the creation of a comprehensive production training system and possibly a pilot training centre in Kiev using existing Antonov infrastructure.
© Vladamir Karnozov
Antonov took one of the two An-148 test aircraft on the tour of Iran last month, with visits to Esfahan, Kish Island, Shahinshahr and Tehran. In Tehran, the aircraft was inspected by senior politicians and Antonov general designer Dmitry Kiva told Flight International that the Iranian leaders expressed their satisfaction with the ZMKB Progress D436-powered twinjet's relatively low western content, which is put at 7%: "Low dependence on western technologies is critical for Iran, in the view of US and EU sanctions regime," he explains.
The Iranian defence ministry has expressed interest in special versions of the An-148 to undertake roles such as troop transport, border patrol, medical evacuation and air tanking.
Although the An-148 received Russian certification in February last year, only one aircraft has been delivered so far. Orders stand at 79 aircraft with lessor Ilyushin Finance being the largest to date holding a firm contract for 34 aircraft.