The Russian aviation industry is facing a “crunch point” as ongoing sanctions linked to the invasion of Ukraine risks leaving operators without the parts to complete required maintenance on the fleet of Western-produced airframes.

That is the warning from David Stewart, an aviation specialist and partner at Oliver Wyman. He said operators may face issues with a shortage of parts as soon as next year.

“If you have to replace the life limited parts, the airline has a real problem because there is no source other than Western OEMs,” he said.

‘Crunch point’

“If you assume that all of the aircraft will go into some form of heavy maintenance within four to six years, whether that’s airframe or engine, then that does provide a crunch point, where you may not be able to support the requirements with your own internal, already-established inventory.

“But the bottom line is because the planes are flying, you’re probably going to run out of inventory before you get to that point. It could be as short as six months or could be up to one or two years.

“We just don’t know what they have to start with and how much cannibalisation of parts has happened already.”

Calendar checks

Describing the process that operators must comply with, Stewart added: “There are calendar checks for the airframe where you have to take it apart, inspect it and repair/replace parts.

“Intervals vary depending on the aircraft type and the airline but the smaller checks take place roughly every 18 months, and then every four, eight or 12 cycles of that, they need a bigger check where you inspect even more of the aircraft, you might get into some corrosion prevention, for example.

“Then you have engine overhaul which happens every four to five years, depending on the age and type of the engine.

“At that point in time, you’re definitely going to need parts. The real question is what parts have they got already in Russia?”
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