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Boeing And Iran Air Sign Jetliner Contract Worth $16.6 Billion

Iran Air has used Boeing 747 passenger jets for years — but their purchase was arranged before 1979's revolution. One of the planes is seen here at the domestic Mehrabad airport in Tehran in 2013.

Iran Air has finalized its historic purchase of 80 U.S.-made passenger jets, signing a deal with Boeing that's the first of its kind since the overthrow of Iran's shah in the 1970s. U.S. officials approved the deal in September, months after Iran emerged from sanctions.

The sale of 50 737 planes and 30 wide-body 777 airliners will support nearly 100,000 jobs, Boeing says. The first planes are slated for delivery in 2018, with more jets following over the next 10 years, Iranian officials say.

As NPR's Jackie Northam has reported:

"Iran and Boeing go a long way back. Boeing was the largest supplier of civilian aircraft to Iran before the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Iran has kept flying those same planes for decades and its fleet of aging, worn-out commercial aircraft is in desperate need of replacement."

Iran is rushing to update its aging commercial airline fleet — according to The Tehran Times, the country's state-owned airline has also placed orders for 100 Airbus planes and 20 smaller craft made by France-based ATR.

The Times also notes that the deal is being finalized "weeks before the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has criticized the nuclear accord with Iran."

According to Iran's FARS news agency, both Boeing and Airbus have also agreed to give Iran's aviation industry the rights to manufacture spare parts and carry out maintenance and repair on their planes.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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