More than 100 days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and with no end in sight to President Vladimir Putin’s ‘special military operation’, Russia’s aviation sector is now beginning to get desperate for spare parts for its Western-built aircraft from Boeing and Airbus.
Tough Western sanctions, however, prohibit the export to Russia of authorized spare parts for Boeing and Airbus aircraft and those sanctions have in turn left operators like flag carrier Aeroflot and its subsidiary Rossiya struggling to service their fleet of planes.
Russia is now reportedly trying to get around these sanctions by authorizing five Russian companies to produce spare parts for Western aircraft. Counterfeit parts will initially include cabin items like galley equipment and seats but could be expanded to mechanical parts in the near future.
The financial newspaper Vedomosti claims authorization was given in April and May to five companies by Russia’s civil aviation regulator Rosaviatsia. Among the five companies which received the certificates were S7 Technics which is part of Russia’s second-largest airline group, and A-technics which is owned by Aeroflot.
The Ural Civil Aviation Plant was also named as one of the companies that received permission to work on foreign aircraft but a Ural spokesperson told the TASS news agency that there had been no talk of producing spare parts for European and American-built aircraft.
The Ural Civil Aviation Plant “specializes in the development, production, testing, repair and maintenance of aviation equipment, components and assemblies” according to local media but works certificates from Rosaviatsia have only been issued for Russia’s own L-410 and DA-42 aircraft.
When sanctions were initially imposed, aviation analysts estimated that Russia’s airlines would only be able to safely operate their Airbus and Boeing aircraft for a few months before a lack of spare parts made doing so actively dangerous.
Russian airlines were quickly banned from flying to the UK following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine but in April British authorities issued a second and more encompassing ban over fears that Russian airlines were “actively promoting” unsafe practices.
The European Union has also added Russian carriers to its so-called Air Safety List, although Aeroflot has been able to maintain an international network with a particular focus on flights to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
Aeroflot has, however, been forced to suspend flights to Sri Lanka after local officials impounded an Airbus A330 aircraft following a request by the aircraft’s lessors last week.
The plane is owned by the Irish leasing company Celestial Aviation Trading Ltd – one of several leasing firms that are desperately trying to reclaim aircraft from Russian airlines.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.