The first Iranian international air show, held on Kish Island from 30 October to 3 November, demonstrated how the country has developed an aviation industry to meet most of its needs while sanctions remain in force from its former principal supplier, the USA.

Iranian aviation company HESA has established six divisions to manufacture, modify, overhaul and repair aircraft for the country's military forces and the company recently moved into the commercial sector with the manufacture of the 52-seat Iran-140 passenger twin turboprop - the first commercial Iranian aircraft.

The first Antonov-designed Iran-140 was displayed at the show, and the second and third aircraft are scheduled for delivery to launch customer regional airline Kish Air by January, says HESA.

Kish Air confirmed an order for two Iran-140s at the show, and the manufacturer is working with Antonov and Thales on a feasibility study to upgrade the aircraft's avionics.

In an effort to further develop its activities, HESA has agreed with the Kharkov State Aviation Factory to combine marketing and support services, and with the Ukrainian aerospace industry to licence-produce aircraft and turboprop engines in Iran.

Much of HESA's work involves the modification, maintenance and major repair of US-supplied aircraft and engines, including the Northrop F-5 and Grumman F-14 Tomcat, many of which remain in service in the country.

Two F-5As, converted from single- to two-seaters, were displayed at the show.

Other reverse engineering work on display included Iranian-built Bell AH-1 Cobras, in two versions, and a local version of the Bell 206 called the Shahed 278.

Iran is also building up experience in composites, with several composite aircraft displayed, including the four-seat Fajr F-3 piston single offered for the training, touring and patrol roles. The F-3 recently entered production to meet the needs of the country's growing aero-club market.

The third development example of the new Tazarve jet trainer, featuring composite fuselage and wing structures, also made an appearance at Kish Island. The Iranian air force has ordered five development examples, and 25 production aircraft, which will be built by the air force at a new purpose-built factory.

With Iran's ageing fleet of commercial aircraft requiring maintenance and support, a number of Western maintenance organisations exhibited. These included Fokker Services (Stork), which predicts the current fleet of 50-plus Fokker airliners in operation in Iran will grow substantially as airlines try to get round US sanctions to meet expanding travel market needs, and as Fokker 50s and Fokker 100s come out of service in other regions of the world.

Source: Flight International