NewsRussian aviation in crisis. Urgent plea for operating 50-year-old planes amid sanctions

Russian aviation in crisis. Urgent plea for operating 50‑year-old planes amid sanctions

Siberia may be cut off from flights.
Siberia may be cut off from flights.
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4:33 AM EST, January 16, 2024

The sanctions have had a significant impact on Russia's aviation industry. As a result, air connections with Siberia may soon become non-existent. Beijing may potentially assist Moscow.

"There's no replacement option for the old planes. If China doesn't extend assistance, the number of aviation accidents could spike dramatically," an anonymous aviation expert revealed to The Insider reporters.

Several airlines operating in Siberia are seeking permission to operate An-24 and An-26 planes over 50 years old. This was cited by Sergey Zorin, CEO of Angara Airlines, during a recent comment to Reuters. Zorin mentioned that nearly a hundred such aircraft are currently in service. However, the majority of them are expected to be decommissioned by 2024. Alexis Yevseyev, acting technical director of Polar Airlines, stated that everyone utilizing these machines is experiencing difficulties with spare parts.

No adequate replacements for An-24 and An-26 models currently exist in Russia. Canadian Bombardiers Q300 and Q400 can be ruled out as alternatives because obtaining spare parts and service support presents a significant challenge due to the sanctions. The same is true for the Czech L-410. In 2023, there was a proposal to jointly produce these planes with Belarus instead of the Czech Republic, but it never moved beyond the proposal stage, emphasized an anonymous expert.

China may offer a solution

Consequently, air traffic over vast parts of Siberia may come to a complete halt, or flights could be undertaken by ancient aircraft. Despite best efforts to conserve these, they could also be grounded in due course. The reason is that Antonov's factories are located in Ukraine, where many parts and components for these machines are produced. Kyiv is unlikely to assist in the situation.

"Perhaps China will come to the rescue," the expert continued. He added that China currently produces MA-60 and MA-600 planes and upgraded versions of An-26 and An-24. However, these also rely on foreign-made engines, he noted.

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