Aviacor is preparing to deliver the first of 12 new-build Tupolev Tu-154s to Iran, which were ordered by the Iranian Government for its airlines in September 1996.

The Samara, Russia, based manufacturer is scheduled to hand over the first aircraft during early February. It is designated Tu-154M-100 and it has a new Aviacor-engineered interior. The remaining aircraft will be completed and delivered during 1997.

The 12 aircraft are among up to 17 Tu-154Ms which have been built over the last two years at Samara, but they are awaiting completion. The airframes need final equipment such as avionics, engines and undercarriages. Aviacor does not purchase these until customers have paid for their aircraft.

The deal between Aviacor and Iran was the first outside the former Soviet Union involving a civil aircraft to be undertaken by a Russian manufacturer without involving the country's usual sales agent, Aviaexport.

Aviacor is the first, and so far only, company to receive special clearance from the Russian Government.

The identity of the Iranian operators has not yet been disclosed, but it is understood that the Tupolev aircraft will be allocated by the Government to state-run airlines such as Iranair and Iran Air Tours.

The latter airline has already operated several Tu-154s on lease. Iran has also expressed interest in acquiring several twin-engined Tupolev Tu-204s.

Source: Flight International