Sanctions predict MRO crisis for Russian commercial aviation – Defense Security Monitor

A319 in new Rossiya Airlines livery at Pulkovo airport. Pictures – Rossia Airlines

Following the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, Western governments and private sector companies imposed unprecedented sanctions on the country that blocked many avenues through which the Russian economy connects to the rest of the world. On Wednesday, global commercial aviation giants Boeing and Airbus entered the fray, suspending operations in Russia and shutting down the supply of spare parts and maintenance services to Russian operators of their planes.

With ongoing diplomatic efforts to end the invasion so far unsuccessful, the prospect of a protracted conflict that would increasingly isolate Russia from Western economic and financial systems seems increasingly likely. For Russian commercial operators, the impact of this new emerging reality will be profound.

In the decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian airlines and cargo operators have become deeply involved in the global aviation market in terms of acquisitions and services of modernization, maintenance and of modernization. For example, Russian operators collectively operate approximately 237 Boeing 737 series aircraft and 314 Airbus A320 series aircraft, as well as smaller amounts of other aircraft. The average age of the collective Russian A320 fleet is 12.6 years, although a significant part of the fleet is now approaching 20 years of operation.

Although the impact of these sanctions on the operational condition of the Russian fleet is less immediately apparent than their financial consequences, the continued inability of Russian operators to reliably acquire spare parts and maintenance through official channels may contribute to aggravating the serviceability crisis in many Russian business sectors. fleets over the next 5 to 10 years. Russian operators will gradually become less able to address potential issues, especially those identified in D-check level maintenance intervals, without access to the global MRO networks that have so far supported them. While these potential problems may motivate Russian commercial operators and the government to commit even more comprehensively to the pursuit of industrial autarky in aviation, such an undertaking would itself incur crippling upfront costs. for a state and operators who may very soon be unable to afford it.

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