MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Sources within Russia's flag carrier Aeroflot have revealed a concerning practice of suppressing information about aircraft defects, according to the investigative news organization Proekt. 

This hazardous policy, which has allegedly been in effect since last spring, was reportedly implemented to circumvent the grounding of aircraft due to identifiable malfunctions — a move that would normally be mandated by safety regulations until the issues are resolved.

Backing these allegations, a technical specialist at Aeroflot has confirmed the existence of such a policy and also suggested that this troubling practice is not isolated to Aeroflot but has become a widespread approach among other airlines to keep aircraft operational.

Adding to the growing concern, an ex-pilot from Nordwind Airlines shared a recent incident at Kazan international airport where a Boeing 737 was observed leaking fuel during engine start-up. The indifference shown by the technicians, the pilot claims, is indicative of the airline management's directive to omit the recording of such defects.

He further stated, "The Russian propensity to rely on good fortune has seemingly permeated the aviation industry. It's undeniably alarming to rely solely on hope while operating an aircraft, yet that seems to be the reality for many airlines in the country today."

The Russian airline industry has been in a precarious position since it became one of the first sectors to bear the brunt of Western sanctions and economic repercussions following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions have resulted in a dearth of critical spare parts and software updates, leading to mounting issues in aircraft maintenance.

The American consulting firm Oliver Wyman highlights the severe impact of these sanctions, revealing that Russian airlines have had to significantly curtail operations, use fewer aircraft, and resort to salvaging parts from decommissioned planes.

The firm's analysts predict a bleak future for Russian aviation. They forecast that the current fleet of around 736 aircraft will likely halve by 2026, implying a drastic 20% reduction in fleet size each year.