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EghtesadOnline: The Russian planemaker Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company is trying to obtain a license from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to sell its Super Jet 100 aircraft to Iran, according to an official with the Association of Iranian Airlines.

“The manufacturer of Sukhoi Super Jet 100 is following procedures to receive due OFAC permits to enter Iran’s market,” secretary of the association, Maqsoud As’adi Samani, was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

“Chances of SSJ-100 depend on the confirmation of Iran Civil Aviation Organization regarding the airworthiness of the aircraft as well as the OFAC license,” he said.

For almost two years, Iran said it was reluctant to buy SSJ-100, due to the Russian plane’s bad reputation in Iran for its poor safety record. However, Iranian authorities recently hinted that they may be considering the purchase of the short-haul plane, according to Financial Tribune.

The 108-seat twin-engine SSJ-100 is among Iran’s options for renovation of its fleet of regional jets, alongside Japan’s Mitsubishi Regional Jet and Brazil’s Embraer. 

Iran has also clinched a preliminary deal with Franco-Italian manufacturer of short-haul planes ATR to meet demand for short-haul jets. The national flag carrier Iran Air has been in talks with ATR for over a year to purchase 20 short-haul aircraft, with the option of adding 20 in future.

The deal is held up due to uncertainty over some licenses for engines made by a Canadian subsidiary of Pratt & Whitney, supplier to the colossal F-35 fighter project. Pratt & Whitney is seen to be wary of the political risks of dealing with Iran, especially with the F-35 project at the center of the US President Donald Trump’s criticism of aerospace firms for going over budget, Reuters reported.

According to Samani, the Trump issue does not seem to concern Sukhoi and the company is expecting the OFAC licenses to be issued soon.

“Although Trump has adopted a strict stance toward Iran, contracts with Airbus and Boeing are upheld … There is no problem in this regard,” Samani said.

Airbus and Boeing secured firm contracts to sell 180 commercial airplanes to Iran in December after they won OFAC permits to supply aircraft to the Islamic Republic. Airbus delivered its first plane to Iran in mid-January.

SSJ-100 performed a demonstration flight in Tehran in December before representatives of Iranian airlines. A few airlines showed interest, but they remained cautious amid reports that Russia had grounded the plane due to safety concerns.

New York Times quoted Russian aviation regulator Rosaviatsia as saying that metal fatigue–a problem usually associated with older airplanes–was discovered in the tail section of a Sukhoi plane. 

Russian national airline Aeroflot, a major Sukhoi customer, canceled 21 domestic flights because of the problem, as Rosaviatsia ordered the planes grounded pending inspections.

Samani said the problem has now been resolved and that the Sukhoi jets have the license to fly once again. 

“The company has informed us in a statement that the problem with the planes has been fixed. Two private airlines are keen to rent this plane, because there is not enough knowledge [of the performance of] these types of plane in Iran. It needs to be tested in Iran’s climatic conditions [before any purchase is made],” he said.

Iran Aviation OFAC Sukhoi Iran aircratfs