Flight Report: Iran Aseman A340 Prototype from Shiraz to Tehran

Flying an A340 Prototype: cn 002 with Iran Aseman

(Flown on November 14, 2016)

On our way back to Tehran from Shiraz during the second Iranian Skies & Cities tour, we were originally supposed to fly with an Iran Air MD-82. A change in Iran Air’s schedules forced us to look for alternatives. During the search, one option stood out – it was a flight with Iran Aseman’s sole Airbus A340-300.

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World’s Oldest A340 in Passenger Service

Iran Aseman is, perhaps, known best for its active fleet of Boeing 727s – last such aircraft still active in passenger service. However, it also has another notable aircraft in its fleet – EP-APA – its sole Airbus A340-300.

The aircraft with its construction number 2 is one of the A340 prototypes and also the oldest A340 flying in passenger service. It took off for the first time almost 25 years ago, in March 1992, as F-WWAS wearing the Airbus house livery.

Once the test flying was done, it was refurbished and delivered to Virgin Atlantic Airways as G-VHOL in 1997. It stayed with the airline until June 2011 when it was re-registered to M-YRGU and stored.

Iran Aseman 727

One of the 727s Iran Aseman is known for landing at Mehrabad airport.
Virgin Atlantic A343

G-VHOL, the A340 that was later transferred to Iran Aseman landing at Heathrow back in 2007.

Later on in 2011 year, the A340 was repainted into Iran Aseman colors and joined the fleet of the Iranian airline. It was primarily used on international routes out of Iran, however, from the second half of 2016, it has been showing on domestic routes out of Tehran Mehrabad airport.

EP3791: Shiraz to Tehran

One of the domestic routes being fairly regularly operated by the A340 is Shiraz to Tehran. While we were initially worried about encountering a type change, we were calmed down when we saw EP-ASA departing Tehran bound for Shiraz on Flightradar.

Arriving at the check-in desk, we were wondering what the seating configuration was like, and whether there would be a possibility to upgrade into business class.

To our surprise, after asking about the possibility of upgrade, we were handed boarding passes that said “C” in the “Class” field. Without any charge.

Check In

By the time we got to the counters, line was already formed.
Check In

Check-in for flight IRC3791 to Tehran.

As in Shiraz, security can be cleared only shortly before the flight – the airline agent has to come to the security checkpoint to “check passengers off,” we had a quick bite at the airport restaurant.

Later on, we proceeded through security and got onboard one of the buses that took us to the aircraft.

Iran Aseman A340

Waiting in line to get onboard the historic aircraft.
Iran Aseman A340

A quick look at the wing before getting onboard.

Onboard the Second A340 Ever Made

Stepping onboard the aircraft, it felt like stepping onboard Virgin Atlantic. Besides the herringbone business class, the premium economy class with brown leather seats and the economy with red seats, there was even a leftover of what once used to be the Virgin Atlantic in-flight bar.

Walking down the aisles, we realized our seats were in the premium economy section, and that the actual premium class was first class that was located in the “business class cabin.”

I settled in my window seat, seat 19K, and waited for the flight to start.

Premium Economy

The “business” class cabin during boarding.
Premium Economy

The Iran Aseman logo on the bulkhead was one of the few things that told us we were not onboard a Virgin Atlantic flight.
Premium Economy

Seatback with first generation IFE screen that stayed inactive throughout the flight.

Boarding was completed at 9:48PM – 18 minutes after the scheduled departure time, and we taxied out of our parking spot at exactly 10PM. Less than 10 minutes later, we reached the end of runway 29L and at 10:09PM we took off.

Overflying the city of Shiraz, we commenced a right turn and headed north towards Tehran.

Iran Aseman A340

Views of Shiraz right after take-off.
Iran Aseman A340

Commencing right turn to set heading for Tehran.

Once the seatbelt signs were switched off, the service started. Even though we were in “C” class, the meal served was the same as in economy class. Given, however, that it was a free upgrade and that the flight was only an hour long, the meal was more than sufficient.

Meal

In-flight meal – kuku sabzi.
Water

Water was offered after the meal.

We cruised for about half an hour before the seatbelt signs were switched back on and we commenced our descend to Mehrabad airport.

We landed on Mehrabad’s runway 29L at 11:19PM, one hour and ten minutes after taking off, and reached our parking stand eight minutes later.

Before getting off, we had a look around the cabin, and we also had a chance to greet the pilots in the cockpit. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the cockpit. After a brief chat with the pilots and crew, we got off the aircraft and into the bus that took us into the terminal.

Mahan Air 747

At Mehrabad, we parked next to Mahan Air 747.
Iran Aseman Crew

The great crew behind what used to be the in-flight bar.
Business Class

Not the best seats for taking wing shots.
Business Class

The business class cabin unchanged from its Virgin Atlantic times.

Since it had been a long day for us, we headed straight to the hotel – we still had five days of the tour ahead of us.

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