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Iran's national flag carrier, Iran Air, has signed a contract with ATR to buy 20 light passenger planes from the France-based company. According to Iranian media, the contract for purchasing 20 light ATR-72 passenger planes, each capable of carrying 70 passengers, was signed in Tehran on Monday. The contract was signed through an official ceremony by managing directors of Iran Air and ATR. Iran Air has announced that two or four planes will be delivered to the company during the current year to be used for conducting short-range flights. ATR-72 has two turboprop engines, which is a form of gas turbine in which revolution of the turbine’s axis is used to move the propeller and generate the driving force. ATR-72 is suitable for short distance flights at speeds below 700 kilometers per hour and is considered an economical option due to lower fuel consumption and less expensive repairs compared to planes that use turbofan engines. The development came just a few days after an Iranian aviation official said the country was planning to buy 40 turboprop planes from ATR following a landmark agreement, which was signed with France’s Airbus to purchase 118 passenger planes. "We discussed the deals in Italy and France and ATR officials are expected in Tehran in the coming days to complete the agreement," Asghar Fakhriyeh Kashan, a top deputy transport minister, said, adding, "There will be 20 firm and 20 optional orders." Agreements for purchasing Airbus and ATR planes were signed following groundbreaking visits to Italy and France by Iran's PresidentHassan Rouhani last month during which the Iranian delegates signed various agreements and memorandums of understanding with a host of French and Italian companies. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony held to mark the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran on Monday, Iran's Minister of Road and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said signing of agreements with Italian and French companies for developing Iranian airports and buying new planes was a sign that the world has accepted Iran's stability in various important fields. “Concluding such contracts is not just a trade move, but a sign that the world has recognized stability of the IslamicRevolution in Iran,” he added. Iran’s current civil aviation fleet consists of 248 aircraft with an average age of 20 years, of which 100 are in storage. The country will need to buy above 500 commercial jets of various models at a cost of USD 50 billion and has been talking to both Airbus and Boeing to acquire aircraft under lease or sale/leaseback deals. Last month, Fakhriyeh Kashan was quoted by Reuters as saying that the Islamic Republic was planning to buy more than 100 aircraft from US aircraft maker Boeing as part of a plan to renovate its commercial aviation fleet. Chairman of Iran Civil Aviation OrganizationAli Abedzadeh, for his part, said on the sidelines of an aviation summit in Tehran that Iran has an immediate demand for 150 aircraft in the 250-seat range and above. “We also need 300 medium- and long-haul aircraft while there is only nine long-range planes in our current fleet,” he added. ATR is based in France and is a joint partnership between two major European aeronautics players – France’s Airbus Group and Italy’s Finmeccanica.