Increasing Safety Incidents Plague Poorly-Maintained Russian Aircraft

Russia’s Flight Safety Crisis: A Consequential Impact of Sanctions and Economic Struggles

Russia has seen a dramatic increase in flight safety incidents in recent times. In September 2023, law enforcement officers were photographed standing next to a Ural Airlines Airbus A320 passenger plane after it had to make an emergency landing in a Siberian field. This incident is just one of many that have occurred since the beginning of the Ukraine war.

Flight safety incidents in Russia have more than doubled since 2022, with the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre reporting 81 cases in 2023 as opposed to 37 in the previous year. The reason for this increase is not entirely clear, but it is believed that Russia’s struggle to maintain their aircraft has only worsened due to the economic sanctions imposed on the country.

Aviation analyst Andrei Menshenin acknowledged the impact of these sanctions, explaining that the shortage of parts has forced Russia to turn to unorthodox methods to keep their planes operational. These methods include receiving US-made aircraft parts through the black market and cannibalizing spare parts from grounded jets. However, these methods come with their own risks.

In August 2023, two Boeing 777s operated by the Russian airline Red Wings experienced technical issues that caused them to be grounded in Turkey, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. The following month, a Ural Airlines Airbus A320 passenger plane had to make an emergency landing in a Siberian field after its hydraulic systems failed.

Despite these incidents, representatives for Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency have yet to respond to requests for comment. This demonstrates the seriousness of the situation and highlights how compromised flight safety is due to Russia’s inability to maintain and operate their aircraft properly.

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