IRAN IS REPORTEDLY negotiating to buy 12 Tupolev Tu-154 airliners, and is also planning to establish a production line for Ilyushin Il-114 turboprops.

A contract signature is "imminent" says a report in the journal, Iran News, in which the Iranian ambassador to Moscow, Medhi Safari, confirms the deal. He adds that the Il-114 production line could be operational "within a year". Rumours that an Il-114 production line is destined for Iran have been circulating for several years.

The three-engine, 164-seat, Tu-154 would almost certainly be for domestic use only, since the aircraft would not comply with Stage 3 noise regulations now in force at most international airports. It is unclear whether the aircraft will be operated by flag carrier Iran Air or by one of the nation's smaller carriers.

Iran has been attempting to buy Western aircraft to upgrade its aging airline fleet. Earlier efforts to acquire Boeing 737s were blocked by US trade sanctions implemented against Tehran.

Source: Flight International