Ukraine Sanctions have isolated all of Putin’s planes
Self-inflicted policies have made the Iron Curtain more of an obstruction to the Russian Fleets
Future financing of all aircraft and export of Russian aircraft on wrong side of new Iron Curtain
Putin will fall off his own Iron Curtain wall
The existing global sanctions have effectively isolated Mr. Putin’s existing aircraft fleet – virtually no country around the world will recognize Russian airplanes based on violations of the global safety systems . Due to inferior financing capabilities and a tax system which penalized aerial vehicles bearing punishing, a large percentage of Aeroflot’s and other carriers’ inventory had been registered overseas. Consequently, international air transportation is almost non-existent for Russian citizens and even more circumscribed as to commercial flight.
Now, Mr. Putin’s Administration has made this IRON CURTAIN permanent. Official rulings by his Ministries allow the existing fleet to acquire needed airplane parts by “cannibalizing” from other airplanes. Transfer of used parts between any vehicle must be justified by a robust aeronautical engineering analysis. Desperate inventory managers likely will be less stringent with a revenue departure waiting for the missing part. Airworthiness may not be the prime consideration for these cannibal parts.
To add to this airworthiness morass, the Russian government removed a restriction on the safety certification basis for accepting parts. Heretofore, the predicate for including a part was approval by the FAA, EASA or Transport Canada ONLY. This limited imprimatur of these three authorities was an action by Rosaviatsiya, their equivalent to the FAA- a major concession by this Russian, ordinarily chauvinist, safety organization. That trust was developed after years of negotiations by Rosaviatsiya; it is unclear the degree to which the new, unlimited list of sources had been examined for their technical expertise. This policy adds to the presumption that this “approved” parts are UNAIRWORTHY.
These two OFFICIAL government actions make the IRON CURTAIN a block from Russian aircraft ever leaving their domestic airspace. No country is likely to permit a Russian maintained plane to land/take-off or maybe even use the airspace WITHOUT A DETAILED, COMPREHENSIVE AUDIT OF EVERY PART IN EACH AIRPLANE. Such a study requires specifically licensed experts (DERs and DARs) to study each record associated with the plane. The process is expensive and extremely time-consuming.
Russia has many “pirated” aircraft– owned by foreign banks; to finance these at risk, ultimately mobile assets, the title is retained by the lessor. By substituting cannibalized or unknown airworthiness parts, these expensive aerial vehicles may have diminished or zero value. After Putin’s war is ended, no financial institution will accept the risk that the Russian repatriation will reoccur.
This lesson will also mean that no manufacturer is likely to sell their more efficient, profitable aircraft to any Russian customer.
The last dimension of this new Iron Curtain applied to Russia’s long term goal of manufacturing and selling commercial aircraft. Diplomatic and/or consumer considerations would deter most international buyers. Again, there may be few financial institutions willing to support the Russian OEMs.
The Russian aviation industry has found a way to keep its fleet operational despite sanctions.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has resulted in international sanctions that have severely impacted the Russian aviation industry. Russian airlines such as Aeroflot are now unable to fly internationally to most destinations and some countries have banned Russian airlines from using their airspace. In addition, plane manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus have halted exporting their planes to Russia, and have also stopped shipping spare parts to Russian airlines. This has resulted in Russian airlines’ plan to start cannibalizing their aircraft to keep the majority of their fleet operational.
Cannibalism of aircraft
Cannibalism of aircraft usually occurs when there is a desperate need for a specific part and there are no alternative supply routes. Aircraft demand constant maintenance to ensure their airworthiness. Regular maintenance such as changing tires or inspecting engine blades all require a constant supply of spare parts. The severance of this supply can lead to a decrease in the size of the fleet, which ultimately affects the operational capacity of an airline.
A solution to this problem is the cannibalism of aircraft. Essentially, engineers will remove a working part of one aircraft and replace a broken part in a different aircraft to allow that aircraft to fly. In some cases, working parts are taken off of aircraft that are sent to the scrapyard, as it is considered unsustainable to cannibalize an aircraft that is still flying. Therefore, parts are sometimes taken off scrapped aircraft instead to reduce the economic loss associated with cannibalizing a fully-functioning plane.
Russian airlines will have to resort to cannibalism of its fleet because of import restrictions of Western countries, which have prevented Boeing and Airbus from exporting spare parts to Russia. Effectively, they are sourcing spare parts from existing aircraft in order to ensure the safety of their fleet, which reduces the operational capacity of the fleet, as some aircraft may become unusable.
Russia’s aviation report
According to ch-aviation, a leaked, unofficial report from the Russian government has surfaced, detailing their assumptions of how the Russian aviation sector will develop in the next decade. The report covers a wide variety of metrics to measure the development of Russian aviation, including passenger numbers, and the number of commercial aircraft. Almost all of these metrics paint an unfortunate and negative future for the industry, as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.
A more pessimistic view of the future entails a shortage of foreign-made aircraft, which the Russian government has pledged to solve by expanding the domestic, Russian-made commercial fleet. If sanctions continue, Russia predicts that in the worst-case scenario, over half of the commercial aircraft in Russia would have to be grounded.
The plan to increase the number of Russian-made aircraft will cost 627 billion rubles ($9.7 billion), and “would add 1,000 Russian-made aircraft to the national fleet by 2030”. This move will certainly ease the pressure on Russian airlines to maintain their foreign fleet, and might decrease Russia’s reliance on the West for aircraft. Still, this large price tag will undoubtedly become a huge burden for Russian taxpayers, especially if inflation continues to increase.
Alternative sources for parts
In addition to cannibalism, other possible routes for finding spare parts include sourcing them from countries that are not currently sanctioned, such as through vendors in Turkey and India. According to Reuters, China has already turned down Russian airlines’ requests for parts, which we can probably attribute to the fear of sanctions from the West.
The bottom line
The conflict in Ukraine has had a drastic impact on the aviation industry, predominantly affecting the Russian market, but also forcing airlines in both Europe and Asia, such as Finnair and Japan Airlines, to take a longer routing to avoid Russian airspace.
Russia has signed changes to a previous decree, significantly widening the range of aircraft and parts allowed to be used by the country’s airlines.
One of the decree’s changes removes previous restrictions that allowed the airlines to use only aircraft parts that were certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) or Transport Canada.
Under the revised law, signed by Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin on May 9, 2022, parts certified by aviation authorities of any country are allowed to be used. In addition, the airlines are also allowed to use aircraft that have an airworthiness certificate or an equivalent document issued by an aviation authority of any country.
Manufacturer documentation of the parts, updates for aircraft digital systems and latest navigational databases are no longer required as well.
The changes apply to foreign-made aircraft operated by Russian airlines, as well as Russian-made aircraft that have foreign-made parts.
Russia has been taking various actions to overcome sanctions imposed after its invasion of Ukraine and to keep its aircraft in the air.
The decree was previously updated on March 12, 2022, to remove numerous restrictions concerning aircraft maintenance. For example, it allowed outside parties to maintain passenger aircraft operated by Russian airlines.
These changes, as well as previous moves by Russia allowing its airlines to reregister foreign aircraft, effectively seizing them from their legitimate owners, resulted in various international institutions voicing safety concerns. In April 2022, the European Commission added 21 Russian airlines to its safety blacklist, and the FAA downgraded Russia’s air safety rating due to non-compliance with ICAO safety standards.
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