(Repeats from Monday)
* This content was produced in Russia, where the law
coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine
MOSCOW, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Russian airlines, including
state-controlled Aeroflot, are stripping jetliners to
secure spare parts they can no longer buy abroad because of
Western sanctions, four industry sources told Reuters.
The steps are in line with advice Russia's government
provided in June http://static.government.ru/media/acts/files/1202206270017.pdf
for airlines to use some aircraft for parts to ensure the
remainder of foreign-built planes can continue flying at least
Sanctions imposed on Russia after it sent its troops into
Ukraine in late February have prevented its airlines from
obtaining spare parts or undergoing maintenance in the West.
Aviation experts have said that Russian airlines would be
likely to start taking parts from their planes to keep them
airworthy, but these are the first detailed examples.
At least one Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100 and an Airbus
A350, both operated by Aeroflot, are currently grounded and
being disassembled, one source familiar with the matter said.
The source declined to be identified due to the sensitivity
of the issue.
The Airbus A350 is almost brand new, the source said.
Most of Russia's fleet of aircraft consists of Western
Equipment was being taken from a couple of Aeroflot's Boeing
737s and Airbus A320s, as the carrier needs more spare parts
from those models for its other Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s,
the source said.
The Russian Ministry of Transport and Aeroflot did not reply
to requests for comment.
'MATTER OF TIME'
Russian-assembled Sukhoi Superjets are also heavily
dependent on foreign parts. An engine has already been removed
from one Superjet to allow another Superjet to continue flying,
the first source said.
To be sure, engines are frequently swapped between aircraft
and are usually supplied under separate contracts, industry
experts said. They are not considered part of the core airframe.
It is "only a matter of time" before Russia-based planes are
cannibalised, a Western aviation industry source said.
Newer generations of jets - A320neo, A350 and Boeing 737 MAX
and 787 - have technology that has to be constantly updated.
Within a year of the sanctions coming into effect, it will
be a "challenge" to keep modern jets in service even for
Russia's highly developed and competent engineering base,
Western sources have said.
The practice of removing parts to keep another plane flying
is commonly known as turning the disused planes into "Christmas
trees". Although relatively rare, it is most often linked to
financial difficulties and has never happened on the same scale
as the widespread reshuffle being predicted in Russia in order
to address the impact of sanctions.
Jetliners may be made operational again provided parts taken
away are put back, though this would not necessarily
reconstitute the traceability needed for jets to re-enter global
Many parts have a limited life that must be logged.
Nearly 80% of Aeroflot's fleet consists of Boeings
and Airbuses - it has 134 Boeings and 146 Airbuses,
along with nearly 80 Russia-made Sukhoi Superjet-100 planes as
of end last year, based on the latest data available.
According to Reuters calculations based on data from
Flightradar24, some 50 Aeroflot planes or 15% of its fleet,
including jets stranded by sanctions - have not taken off since
Three out of seven Airbus A350s operated by Aeroflot,
including one now being used for parts, did not take off for
around three months, the Flightradar24 data shows.
Russian carriers flying fewer routes due to Western
sanctions means there are unused jets grounded that can be
stripped, a second industry source said.
"Western manufacturers understand that almost all Superjets
are being operated in Russia," said Oleg Panteleev, head of the
Aviaport aviation think-tank. "You can simply stop producing and
shipping spare parts - and it will hurt."
The Russian aviation industry's development plan up to 2030
estimated that Russia could face the biggest challenges with
A350 and Bombardier Q series as maintenance on them is carried
The Russian government's advice envisages "partial
dismantling of a certain parts of the aircraft fleet", which
would keep two thirds of the foreign fleet operational by
The main challenge will be keeping engines and sophisticated
electronic equipment in working order, said Panteleev.
"It will be hard to get them repaired," he said.
Aeroflot, once among the world's top airlines but now
reliant on state support, experienced a 22% fall in traffic in
the second quarter of this year from a year ago, the company's
data showed, after sanctions prevented it from flying to most
Securing supplies from countries which have not imposed
sanctions on Russia is unlikely to help, as companies from Asia
and the Middle East fear a risk of secondary sanctions against
them by Western governments, the sources said.
"Each single part has its own (unique) number and if the
documents will have a Russian airline as the final buyer, then
no one would agree to supply, neither China nor Dubai," the
first source said, adding that all parts have to be made known
to Boeing and Airbus before they are supplied to the end-user.
(Reporting by Reuters;
Editing by Josephine Mason, Matt Scuffham and Jane Merriman)