Russian domestic airline companies, unable to acquire imported spare parts and up-to-date software in the face of sanctions, are resorting to cannibalising existing planes in an attempt to extend the lifespan of their fleets.

IrAero airlines deputy general director Sergei Krupnov said Russia's industry was unable to keep up with demand from airlines needing to repair their ageing aircraft.

Angara Airlines representative Sergei Zorin urged regulators to extend the lifespan of the country's ageing Soviet-made Antonov aircraft, AFP reports.

One quarter of Antonovs – which are on average 50 years old – are due to be grounded in around five years, according to current rules, he added.

Speaking during a meeting with officials on Wednesday, Zorin asked them to “prolong the operation of An-24 and An-26” aircraft, according to state news agency Interfax.

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More than half the 150 Russian-made planes operating regional flights in the country are Antonov type aircraft, specifically An-24s and An-26s, he said.

Zorin also said more should be done to support the domestic production of aircraft.

Since Western countries imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Russia, triggered by its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, several recent incidents have highlighted mounting concerns around passenger safety.

The Novaya Gazeta Europa (NGE) website reported that even before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the imposition of Western sanctions, Russia’s aviation industry faced serious, well-documented safety issues.

China Drops Russia from Joint Passenger Aircraft Project
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China Drops Russia from Joint Passenger Aircraft Project

Media noticed that the mock-up of the C929 long-range wide-body airliner displayed at the Farnborough International Air Show by COMAC had dropped visible references to Russia’s involvement.

In August, passengers on a Red Wings flight were stuck in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg for 24 hours due to simultaneous “technical malfunctions” on the only two available aircraft.

The company pointed to “external sanctions” and “restrictions on the supply of spare parts, which complicates aircraft maintenance” in a press release.

The same month a Russian Pegas Fly plane was delayed in Thailand due to faults with its weather monitoring system.

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At the start of October, the state airline Aeroflot suffered three technical failures to its planes in a single day.

Adding to the woes of the Russian airline industry, Beijing has quietly dropped Russian firms from its project to build a new intercontinental widebody airliner following multiple delays caused by Western sanctions against the Kremlin.

Moscow had hoped to cooperate with China to build its first widebody airliner since the Soviet era, using Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation as the leader in its part of the project.

It was expected that the CR929 airliner, jointly built by China and Russia, would compete with intercontinental aircraft manufactured by Boeing and Airbus with between 250 to 350 seats and a 12,000 km range.

The project has encountered repeated setbacks on the Russian side because Moscow’s aerospace industry has been heavily sanctioned following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Now, according to the South China Morning Post, China has finally excluded Russian partners from the C929 airliner project.

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