Move inspired by growing economy and demand for flying, with Europe the next step

Iranian general aviation aircraft manufacturer HF Dorna is planning to open a flying school in Iran in the next three months equipped with its two-seat Blue Bird piston single. The opportunistic strategy by the Tehran-based company is designed to exploit the country's improving economic climate and burgeoning demand for private flying, prompted by a recent law change permitting private aircraft ownership for the first time in years.

The venture will also give increased exposure to the all-composite Blue Bird trainer, which in December 2002 received Iranian certification to European JAR 21 standards, becoming the first Iranian-designed and-built civil aircraft to reach production. The Blue Bird is a conventional low-wing, fixed-gear light aircraft powered by a 115hp (85kW) Bombardier Rotax 914-F3 with a two- or three-blade MT variable-pitch propeller. The aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 750kg (1,650lb) and a maximum speed of 113kt (210km/h) at its 12,000ft (3,600m) cruising altitude. "We have 10 orders for the aircraft and options for 25 more," says HF Dorna managing director Yaghoub Antesary. He says there is pent-up demand for the machine, but the lack of training schools in Iran is hampering supply.

"In Iran there are only about 50 dedicated training aircraft, including ultralights, operated by a clutch of training schools," says Antesary. Iran's training market is dominated by ageing Raytheon Beech Bonanzas and Cessna 172s, he says, many of which are grounded as US trade sanctions have led to a paucity of spare parts. These trade restrictions have so far led HF Dorma to concentrate its marketing effort for the Blue Bird on neighbouring countries and on its domestic market. Antesary says: "Europe is an important market for the Blue Bird and we are targeting European type certification within two years."

The Dorna Flight Training Schools will provide training for private pilot, commercial and air transport pilot's licences. Antesary says: "As economic reform and privatisation slowly begins to filter through, more and more businesses and individuals will use general aviation as a means of transport and demand for training and private aircraft will continue to rise."

Source: Flight International