Mechanics in Iran have managed to reverse-engineer Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine blades, vital components in McDonnell Douglas aircraft, the country's Tasnim News Agency reported. The development could help the sanctions-hit country revive its ageing fleet.

With mounting challenges in sourcing essential engine parts, Iran's aviation industry has turned to domestic production, Mani Rezvani, chief executive of Karaj Payam-based MRO firm MAPNA Aero, confirmed to the news agency. “Domestically manufactured blades will substantially reduce dependence on costly imports, fostering resilience in Iran's aviation sector,” he said.

According to his estimates, local blade production for the engines will cost USD8,000 whereas imported parts cost USD22,000. The parts are yet to receive approval from the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran, but MAPNA Aero expects this will arrive soon and that the first aircraft fitted with the new blades will start operating this month. Furthermore, Rezvani expects that mass production of the blades for other aircraft and exports to countries such as Russia and Venezuela will also be possible soon.

At least 28 aircraft are grounded in Iran because of unaffordable spare parts. According to ch-aviation ch-aviation fleets, airlines operating McDonnell Douglas aircraft with JT8D engines include ATA Airlines (Iran), Caspian Airlines, Chabahar Airlines, Iran Airtour Airlines, Kish Air, Taban Air, and Zagros Airlines (Iran). There are a total of 42 aircraft in this group with an average age of 31.5 years.

JT8D engines were first introduced on the B727-100. However, the engines have been out of use at major airlines since Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) took the step of retiring its McDonnell Douglas fleet in 2020.