MOSCOW—In the past few years, MRO market in Russia has been on the rise. This reflects the growth of the air transport market, which has triggered massive fleet renewal by the Russian carriers with Western-built aircraft carrying 89% of the country's passengers in 2011.

The shift to the predominant use of Western airframes has necessitated a new MRO system. Most of those aircraft operated in Russia have been serviced abroad, but the local aftermarket sector is developing.

The country only has a few service centers certified to provide heavy maintenance of foreign-made airliners: Aeroflot's Aviation Technical Center, Vostok Technical Service and Engineering Holding.

Engineering Holding is likely to advance faster than others toward becoming an independent MRO provider. It unites two facilities owned by S7 Group—S7 Engineering and Sibir Technics—as well as ATB Domodedovo, and S7 has maintenance centers in Moscow, Novosibirsk and Mineralnye Vody. In 2011, the holding company's revenues reached 2.4 billion rubles (around $80 million) for about 4% of all MRO activities in Russia that year.

According to the holding company, S7 Engineering was its largest division in 2011 with 1.35 billion rubles in revenue. Last year, it posted 747,000 hr. of work, including 448 A checks, 19 C checks and two D checks. At the end of 2011, S7 Engineering completed its first Airbus A319 D check; earlier, it performed such maintenance only for Boeing 737 Classics.

Another Russian provider approved for such heavy maintenance is Novosibirsk-based Sibir Technics. It can perform periodic maintenance including D checks for A320 family and both 737 Classic and NG aircraft. In 2011, the company logged more than 443,000 hr., including 158 A checks, 27 C checks, four IL-checks and five D checks. Its revenues totaled 700 million rubles. ATB Domodedovo specializes in maintenance of Russian aircraft types. In 2011, it worked on 80 different aircraft and ranked the third with 355,000 hr. and 340 million rubles in revenue.

Russia's largest carrier, Aeroflot, traditionally performs line and periodic maintenance of its fleet at its facility at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport. The airline completes some third-party services; in 2010, it provided maintenance services to 27 other carriers.

In February, Aeroflot's board decided to move its MRO facilities into a joint venture with the state corporation Russian Technologies. The board is expected to approve the JV plan this summer. This will allow the airline to cut fleet maintenance costs as the JV also will be able to provide MRO services to carriers based in former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe. According to Russian aviation sources, this JV can recruit a foreign partner such as Lufthansa Technik, which has strong positions in the region.

Vostok Technical Service recently opened at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport. The company is certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency to provide C checks for all 737s. The head of Vnukovo's board, Vutaly Vantsev, says this maintenance facility plans to develop ties with large Russian carriers such as UTair and Transaero. The former is based in Vnukovo, while the latter recently started moving some flights to Moscow Domodedovo Airport.

Another possible partner mentioned by Vantsev is Volga-Dnepr Technics, which has evolved from a technical division of Russia's largest cargo carrier, Volga-Dnepr, into an independent unit. Its main activities include line maintenance of Russian and Western-made widebody cargo aircraft, and it aims to get approval to work on popular narrowbodies such as the 737 and A320. In August, Volga-Dnepr Technics signed an agreement with SuperJet International to provide C checks for Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jets. This summer, Volga-Dnepr Technics plans to open a hangar in Sharjah, U.A.E., where it will perform A checks and later C checks for Boeing 747s. Similar hangars for this MRO are expected to open in Leipzig, Germany, and Ulyanovsk, Russia. The narrowbodies will be serviced at Moscow's Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo airports.