Authorities in Russia have given more options to airlines for sourcing spares, including cannibalization and fitting non-original parts.
Next month will see the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A resolution to this war still seems far into the future. And for the aviation industry, both in Russia and elsewhere, the current situation looks set to continue. We saw that Aeroflot managed to secure ownership of some aircraft – but these are jets that are already in its fleet.
According to Aviation Week, airlines in Russia have likely found ways to acquire aircraft spares. The sources of these parts remain unclear. But fitting parts with approvals from other aviation authorities also requires approvals from Rosaviatsia, Russia’s aviation regulator. Predictably, the agency has authorized airlines in Russia to install spares that already have approvals from various foreign aviation authorities.
We have previously looked at the possibility that Russia might do what Iran has done, to secure spare parts – or even aircraft. Given the size of Russia’s aviation traffic (compared to Iran’s), the flow of spares that the country’s airlines need to source would be much harder to sustain. And harder to keep secret.
“Non-Original” Spares In Russia?
Rosaviatsia is also making it easier for airlines in Russia to use spares that they can source. This includes parts from aircraft in storage, that airlines can cannibalize to keep others active. It also includes “non-original spare parts”. We don’t know the precise meaning of this term, that is whether or not it is referring to spurious parts or if it is something “lost in translation”.
However, the country’s aviation authority has been gradually easing provisions and broadening approvals for such processes. We have already seen that the regulator has permitted airlines in Russia to source spares for parts of the cabin interior, from local manufacturers. But this was some time ago. It is not clear what parts these approvals have extended to by now.
Russia hopes to avoid this search for spares or western aircraft in the longer term, by switching to Russian aircraft. However, this is still some way into the future. Moves to replace the multitude of foreign aircraft systems in existing Russian aircraft designs, like the Sukhoi Superjet, are developing very slowly. There is still no news of Aeroflot or any other Russian aircraft operator taking delivery of any Tu-214s, for instance. This aircraft was already in production, at the time of Russia’s invasion.
In a separate but related development, the situation in Russia has led international lessors to re-evaluate other, potentially risky markets around the world. After losing almost $10 billion in aircraft in Russia, lessors are busy analyzing the geopolitical situations in other hotspots around the world. After their increasingly questionable maintenance and sources of spares, recovering airliners in Russia now looks like a lost cause.