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    Iran to end flights of old Tupolev aircraft in February

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    The Iranian authorities would ban flights of Russian-made Tu-154 aircraft from February 20, the Fars news agency said citing the country's civil aviation chief.

    The Iranian authorities would ban flights of Russian-made Tu-154 aircraft from February 20, the Fars news agency said citing the country's civil aviation chief.

    "All Iranian airline companies which have Tupolev-154 in their fleet are required to end operation of their Tupolevs by February 19," Reza Nakhjavani told the agency.

    Four Iranian air carriers - Iran Air Tour, Kish Air, Eram and Taban - who have a total of 17 Tu-154 jets in their fleets, were instructed to ground their Tupolevs by February 19 and replace them with other planes.

    "The use of Tu-154 planes is banned in connection with recent incidents involving those aircraft," the civil aviation chief said in his letter to the air carriers.

    Nakhjavani earlier criticized the Russian Tupolev manufacturer for refusing to respond to the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization's request in connection with recent Tu-154 accidents.

    In the worst air disaster in Iran in years in 2009, a Caspian Airlines Tupolev-154 caught fire in mid-air en route to Armenia and plunged into farmland in July 2009, killing all 153 passengers and 15 crew.

    In January 2010, a Tu-154 with 156 people onboard caught fire while performing an emergency landing in the Iranian city of Mashhad, leaving at least 46 injured.

    In an effort to renew its outdated civil aviation fleet, Iran plans to import 13 Boeing MDs and six Airbus passenger planes in the near future. The Islamic Republic will also start the domestic production of IRAN-140 passenger plane.

    MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti)

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