Two Siberian airlines have asked the Russian government to extend the certification of planes produced in the former USSR. Without this, the airlines risk grounding local air transport in Siberia.
For many months, aircraft manufacturers have not supplied spare parts to companies from Russia, and the sale of new Boeings or Airbuses is also excluded (at least officially, because intermediaries from Pakistan and India, among others, resell spare parts). Domestic-made planes still fly over Russia, but parts are also needed for their maintenance. For the purposes of repairs, old, decommissioned machines were “dismantled” and unexpectedly became parts factories.
Old planes can save the Russian flight network
However, this is all about saving the situation rather than long-distance actions. “Rzeczpospolita” reports on the problems of two airlines operating flights over Siberia: Polar Airlines and Angara Airlines, which asked the Russian government to extend the certification of An-24 and An-26 aircraft produced in the times of the former USSR. Otherwise, they will have to significantly reduce their flight network. Foreign media wrote about the An-24 belonging to Polar Airlines with 30 passengers on board after it landed on the Kolyma River on December 29, 2023, because the captain mistakenly mistook it for the runway. He explained that the outdated on-board equipment led him there.
“The appeal of Polar and Angara, which asked Rosawiacja to extend their certificates for more than 60 years, shows the problems that Russian airlines are struggling with today,” summarizes “Rzeczpospolita.”
Antonovs are no longer produced
Antonowy machines are perfect for Siberian conditions: durable, with a powerful engine. This is important because temperatures over this huge region can drop to minus 50. Antonovs have been produced in Kiev since the 1960s, but have practically been discontinued for ten years.
– There are almost 100 such machines still in operation, and their average age is over 50 years. Some of them have lost their certificates and are scheduled to be withdrawn this year. And by 2030, a quarter of these planes will be grounded because the Ukrainians will not sell us parts. The state must support us. Today we work in a market where there is no alternative to the An-24 and An-26. We are investing in repairs and maintenance, but it is not enough, said Sergei Zorin, deputy general director of Angara Airlines.