Ukraine and Iran will jointly manufacture 78 Antonov-148 aircraft for an unspecified Iranian customer, with all of the planes to roll off assembly lines by the end of 2011, a top Ukrainian aviation official said.
Ukraine's state-owned Antonov will produce 18 twin-engine mid-range turboprop, while the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA) will build another 60 planes, said Dmitry Kiva, Antonov's head engineer.
Kiva, speaking at the Paris Air Show, did not give the value of the 78-plane deal, saying only that the contract had been signed.
'We hope to finish the work this year,' he said.
A typically configured An-148 costs about 9 million dollars, according to Ukrainian news reports.
First test-flown in 1997, the An-148 is a Ukrainian-designed aircraft also produced under license in Iran and Russia. It can carry between 68 and 85 passengers, with a range of up to 4,400 kilometres.
The plane has suffered three crashes in which all passengers and crew were killed. Despite this, Antonov officials have remained upbeat on the aircraft's prospects and estimated that 500 to 1,000 An-148 planes could be sold in the Middle East and Africa by 2020.
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