REFILE-Iran near deal for Russian civilian planes-Tupolev


(Refiles, fixing day of week in first paragraph to Wednesday)

ZHUKOVSKY, Russia, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Russia's Tupolev aircraft maker said on Wednesday talks to sell Iran civilian aircraft had gained momentum recently and the two sides were even discussing joint airplane production.

"We have been working with our Iranian colleagues for a long time," Tupolev president Igor Shevchuk told reporters at the MAKS-2007 airshow at the Zhukovsky airbase east of Moscow. "Negotiations have really picked up recently and are on a very workmanlike level.

"We are talking about the purchase of Tu-214 and Tu-334, and the option of joint production of those and other aircraft is also being looked at,"he said.

A source close to the deal said the order could be worth several hundred million dollars as each plane is worth about $30-$35 million.

Another source said representatives from Iran had held talks with Russian aircraft company officials at the airshow.

Russia has already sold Iran military air defence systems and is building a nuclear plant in Bushehr, to the annoyance of the United States and Israel.

President Vladimir Putin has vowed to revive Russia's once mighty aviation industry by grouping companies like Tupolev and Sukhoi into one giant, state-controlled holding, the United Aviation Corporation.

The corporation has ambitious plans to sell $250 billion worth of aircraft by 2025 and overtake even Soviet-era production records to compete on the world market with giants such as Boeing and Airbus.

Iran's domestic flights have a chequered record and Iranians often say they fear to fly on the rickety fleet.

In February 2002, a Tupolev-154 operated by Iran Air Tours crashed into a mountain in western Iran, killing 117 people.



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