TechRussia's air travel crisis: Western planes grounded, replacements scarce

Russia's air travel crisis: Western planes grounded, replacements scarce

Russian passenger plane Ilyushin Il-96
Russian passenger plane Ilyushin Il-96
Images source: © Lic. GFDL 1.2, Sergey Riabsev, Wikimedia Commons

6:59 AM EDT, May 18, 2024

Russia wants to withdraw Western-made passenger planes from use due to a lack of parts and factory service, leading to their worsening condition. The problem is that there is nothing to replace them with, and domestic production of passenger planes is insufficient to meet the demand.

Sanctions have severely impacted Russian air transport. Although most planes are operational, essential parts and factory services are unavailable. As a result, reliability is declining, the risk of operation is increasing, and if poorly serviced planes continue to fly, the number of air disasters will likely rise.

This is why Russia intends to quickly withdraw Western-made passenger planes, primarily Boeing and Airbus, from use. The problem is that it needs about 550 new aircraft to replace them, while the Russian industry produces an average of only two per year.

The situation worsens further because, according to the Ukrainian service Defense Express, Western-made planes make up 65% of Russia's passenger plane fleet but account for up to 95% of all flights.

To keep Western planes in continuous operation, Russia is changing regulations regarding plane inspection and servicing and trying to obtain parts through third countries such as Turkey or the United Arab Emirates.

Despite Russian politicians' declarations about replacing Western planes with Russian equivalents, the industry is unable to deliver adequate replacements.

Although theoretically, Russia can produce several types of passenger planes, such as the MS-21, Superjet, Tu-214, Il-114, and Il-96, in practice, the production of newer models is being delayed, and older ones, such as the Il-96, are produced in single units annually.

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