Key Points:

  • The Russian aviation industry, already burdened by sanctions, witnessed multiple emergency incidents with Rossiya Airlines' Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft in a short span.

  • Western sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine have hindered the delivery of spare parts and new aircraft, prompting the industry to seek alternatives.

  • While the direct impact of the sanctions on specific incidents is unclear, the overall stress on the industry is evident, with the Russian government planning to be self-reliant by 2030.

Amidst Western sanctions, Russia's aviation sector faces numerous challenges and emergency situations.

The Russian aviation sector, already under duress due to sanctions imposed by the West, is now grappling with several emergency incidents involving aircraft. Recent findings by Agentstvo, a Russian investigative platform, indicate that a Sukhoi Superjet 100 operated by Rossiya Airlines was embroiled in four emergency events over the past fortnight.

Sukhoi Superjet 100: A Series of Alarming Incidents 

On October 13th, a Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100-95B encountered two separate incidents. First, during its journey from St. Petersburg to Murmansk Oblast, and shortly after, the crew faced issues with the aircraft's wing mechanization, according to sources from Agentstvo. On October 9, the aircraft had to make an emergency touchdown in Samara due to jammed wing flaps, circling before finally landing. Earlier on October 1, the same plane experienced wing mechanization problems while arriving in St. Petersburg from Apatity in Murmansk Oblast.

Sanctions and the Aviation Industry's Struggles Post the invasion of Ukraine, Russia's aviation has suffered from sanctions by the West. These sanctions, led by the U.S., have deterred aircraft manufacturers from supplying spare parts and new planes to Russia. The lack of access has forced Russia's aviation sector to search for workarounds, focusing on domestic alternatives to Western spare parts. The impact of sanctions was evident in August when two out of three Boeing 777 planes of a Russian airline were grounded in Turkey due to technical glitches. Rossiya Airlines even expressed apprehensions about the operational capability of 40% of its Superjet 100 fleet in 2023 due to the shortage.

Looking Ahead and External Analysis 

While there were recent reports of 17 flights being either delayed or canceled across three Moscow airports, the reasons remain undisclosed. However, the Russian Transport Ministry remains optimistic, outlining a vision for the nation's aviation domain by 2030. This vision sees a decline in foreign aircraft operations, with an increased reliance on indigenous spare parts.

Anastasia Dagaeva, a Russian aviation specialist, elucidated in her report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that the sanctions from 2022 have been tougher on Russia than prior ones. Russian airlines, once well-integrated globally, suddenly found themselves bereft of essential international amenities, ranging from technical support to insurance services. Dagaeva accentuated that while Russian aviation isn't vanishing soon, the industry will indeed become insular, feeling the absence of global technical collaboration.