By Aynur Karimova
Iran has suspended manufacturing IrAn-140 passenger planes, Hamid Habibi, the country's Deputy Head of Flight Standards of Civil Aviation Organization said.
He was commenting on a statement by Mohammad Ali Sirati, the managing director of Iran Airplane Manufacturing Company (HESA) who said that despite the flying ban, the company continues manufacturing the planes of this model.
Habibi noted that for the time being, HESA is not permitted to produce IrAn-140, local media reported on May 19.
"The Islamic Republic civil aviation organization has banned the production and use of the IrAn-140 aircraft as well as issuing fly licenses for the plane," Habibi noted. "The ban will remain until determining the cause of last year crash and removing the problems."
The Ukrainian Antonov aircraft is assembled in Iran under the license issued by HESA and is called IrAn-140.
The first fatal crash of IrAn-140 occurred during a test flight in 2009, killing the crew of five, while the latest tragic passenger plane crashes occurred last August in the capital, Tehran and claimed the lives of 40 people.
International sanctions imposed on the export of aircrafts and spare parts to Iran have left the country's airline industry saddled with not only some of the oldest fleet in the Middle East, but in the world. Iran's four largest carriers - Iran Air, Aseman Airlines, Mahan Air and Iran Air Tours - all have an average fleet age above 22 years.
Ali Reza Jahangirian, head of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, believes the Islamic Republic's airliners would need to order 400 aircrafts over the next 10 years to replace its depleting and aging fleet.
Out of Iran's 250 commercial planes, about 150 are flying while the rest are "not functional" due to a lack of spare parts, he noted.