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Last stand for Russia's Aging Airline fleet

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 · Category Business · comments 1


After the terrible incident with Yaroslav's successful Lokomotiv hockey Team, acting president Dimitri Medvedev announced that there would be no more place for Russias huge number of small air carriers.

Russia's small air carriers

Have you ever heard of airline companies with names such as: Vostok Airlines, Air Bashkortostan, AeroBratsk, Airstars, Alania Airlines, Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise, Alrosa-Avia, Angara Airlines, Annushka, ATRAN, Aviacon Zitotrans, Bugulma Air Enterprise, Bural, Bylina, ChukotAVIA, Donavia, Elbrus-Avia, Gazpromavia, Groznyavia, Izhavia, Kavminvodyavia, Kazan Air Enterprise, KD Avia, Kirov Air Enterprise, Kogalymavia, Komiaviatrans, Kuban Airlines, Moskovia Airlines, Nordwind Airlines, Novosibirsk Air Enterprise, Orenburg Airlines, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Air Enterprise, Polet Airlines, Pskovavia, RusLine, RusAir, Saratov Airlines, SAT Airlines, Sky Express, Tatarstan Airlines, Transaero Airlines, Ural Airlines, UTair Express, UTair Aviation, VIM Airlines, Vladivostok Air, Volga-Dnepr, Yakutia Airlines and Yamal Airlines. Changes are you haven't heard of them.

Most of these are regional operators and host a number of older Soviet age aircraft with the better known Tupolev's 134, 154 and Yakovlev Yak-42 (the one that crashed with the icehockey team on board) and many of these carriers fly an unknown number of aircraft types: Antonov An-2, Antonov An-24, Yak-40 and Antonov An-38.

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  • Antonov--AN-24-Belavia.jpg
  • Antonov--AN-24-Cockpit.jpg

The Russian problem

There are some five to six Airline operators which execute regular flights, using relatively new aircraft and service their fleets, pay respectable wages and pay attention to qualified personnel. Among them you will find the better known Aeroflot, Rossiya Airlines, S7 Airlines and Transaero.

For the 100 smaller companies, many of whom already ceased operations since the 2008 financial crisis, without any reserves, staying alive means cutting back on everything you can possibly think of including maintenance, technology and qualified  pilots. Investing in new aircraft is a dream for these operators, which may never be fullfilled.

So yes, on one hand President Medvedev is right. The number of aircraft companies should be reduced radically and some of the older aircraft should be banned from flying. On the other hand; with more crashes yet to follow, a lack of cash to invest in new airplanes and the bankrupcy of AirUnion, this mechanism will take place anyway.

Russia skies without Soviet planes ...

It does - if you come to think of it - remains a pitty that the Russian Skies one day soon will be without any of those great Soviet airplanes. After all; let's not forget that many of these planes designed and built in the early 60's and 70's were once sturdy aircraft capable of taking off and landing in the hardest conditions one can imagine, be it rain, snow, cold or unpaved runways.

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  • TU-154-Turan.jpg
  • Tupolev-134-Cockpit.jpg

Some famous Soviet planes

The Yak-40 was a huge success, often called the first ever regional jetliner introduced in 1968 and with more than 1975 planes produced. There are still some 230 Yakovlev Yak-40's in service and the jet has become a very popular business jet.

The Yak-42 was the first Soviet airplane powered by modern high-bypass turbofan engines. The Yak-42 was a financial disaster and only 178 planes were produced out of the planned 2000. Some 92 remain in service today, mainly in Russia, Ukraine, Cuba and Armenia. Armavia which is the first users of the new Sukhoi S-100  called the "Yuri Gagarin" is only operating one Yak-42D as a VIP carrier. This is the most modern version.

Tupolev Tu-134 is a twin-engined airliner similar to the Douglas DC-9 and originally featured a glass-nose design. It is one of the most widely used Soviet planes. It has been in service since 1967, has been banned from EU airspace because of bad safety, high emissions and loud noise. Some 852 have been produced and the Tu-134 was the first Soviet airplane to receive international certification from the International Civil Aviation Organization, which permitted it to be used on international routes. 233 remain in operation although President Medvedev has ordered the Tu-134 to be retired by 2012.

Tupolev Tu-154 is a three-engine medium-range airlines which looked a lot like the Boeing 727 except for the typical downward swept wings. The Tu-154 has been the workhorse of the former Soviet Union and most Russian airlines with a production of 1025 units. It entered into service in 1972 and is still one of the fastest civilian aircraft in history reaching some 975 kilometres per hour. Some 123 remain in service today.

Antonov AN-24 which first flew in 1959 (!), has been mass-produced with some 1379 units build and some 880 still in service today. Production continues in China under its new name: MA60

  • Tupolev-134-Karat.jpg
  • Tupolev-134-Magas.jpg
  • Tupolev-134-Tatarstan-Airlines.jpg
  • Yaroslav-Yak-42.jpg
  • Yaroslav-Yak-42-Air-Alania.jpg
  • Yaroslav-Yak-42-Lviv-Airlines.jpg


1. by Silviu about 9 years

Interesting post :)


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