London, Asharq Al-Awsat—A spokesman for US-based Boeing said Friday that it had received approval to sell aircraft parts to Iran, as part of the partial easing of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic agreed in the interim nuclear deal last November.
The spokesman, representing the world’s largest aircraft company, said Boeing had been issued a license by the US Treasury department to sell parts needed to ensure the safety of the aircraft.
General Electric (GE) said it was also issued a license to overhaul 18 engines it sold Iran in the 1970s, also to ensure their safe operation.
A spokesman for GE said representatives of his company and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines, which is also licensed to service Iranian commercial aircraft, would meet with Iranair representatives in Istanbul next week to make arrangements for the work.
Iranair, the country’s flag carrier, is still using a commercial fleet purchased before the 1979 revolution, supplemented by Russian aircraft and parts it says are sub-standard.
The last plane Boeing sold to the country, a 747-100, was delivered three months before the 1979 hostage crisis that resulted in the first round of US sanctions, and it has not done any acknowledged business with the country since. Most commercial aircraft have a service life equal to about 25 years with proper maintenance.
As a result, Iranair has one of the poorest safety records of any flag carrier worldwide, with more than 200 accidents causing over 2,000 deaths being reported since 1990 according to state news agency IRNA. In 2010, two-thirds of Iranair’s fleet was banned from flying to the European Union due to safety concerns.
If a permanent nuclear deal is reached, resulting in the complete lifting of the sanctions, analysts expect Iran would need to order hundreds of aircraft. Expert-level talks to reach a permanent deal recommenced in Vienna Friday.