Industry Starts Assessing Impact Of EU Sanctions On Russia

Aeroflot airplane
Credit: Daniel Slim / AFP / Getty Images

The aerospace industry has begun to evaluate the consequences of the sanctions the EU is imposing on Russia’s aviation in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Some effects have yet to be fully understood and Russia’s demand for commercial aircraft is relatively small but, at least, some numbers are emerging.

“We prohibit the repair and maintenance of any [Russian] aircraft or aeronautical equipment by EU companies and organizations,” European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean says. “We prohibit the sale, supply, transfer or export of all goods and technology linked to aircraft, helicopters and spacecraft.”

It is premature to comment in detail about the impact of sanctions on our industry, an Airbus spokesman says.

Their most immediate significance will arguably be on the spare parts business. Russia accounts for 342 of Airbus’ 12,434 in-service aircraft, according to the Aviation Week Network’s Fleet Discovery.

In terms of production backlog, “our exposure is limited to 14 Aeroflot A350s and about 40 single-aisle [A220 and A320 family] to be delivered through lessors,” the spokesman says.

Regional turboprop manufacturer ATR has three operators in Russia—Krasavia, Nordstar Airline and UTAir—for a total of 22 aircraft.

In engines, CFM International has a fleet of 500 aircraft using CFM56s or Leaps, representing 1,000 turbofans. “They are spread over a dozen operators,” a spokesperson says. The company has no MRO facility in the country and Russian-operated engines usually go to maintenance shops in France and Morocco, according to the spokesperson. They can also be serviced in licensed workshops outside the CFM-owned network, he adds.

Lufthansa Technik, a major MRO service provider in Europe, provided a few numbers. “Lufthansa Technik currently has contracts with a large number of airlines in Russia,” a spokesman says. “The range of services mainly includes component and engine support. Spare parts supply has been a significant part of the current contracts. Repairs to components or engines were carried out at Lufthansa Technik sites outside Russia. Aircraft maintenance services played only a minor role.”

Lufthansa Technik Vostok Services is based in Moscow with about 40 employees. It provides material and component support “for various civilian customers from Russia and the CIS states.” Whether the subsidiary of an EU company is affected by the ban has yet to be clarified.

Tarmac Aerosave, mainly known for its storage offering in France and Spain and also active in maintenance and refurbishment, says the situation is still uncertain. “We continue to support owners and operators from everywhere, in compliance with European Union Aviation Safety Agency [EASA] regulation,” a spokesperson says.

Some services seem to thus far be outside the bans’ scope. For example, Aeroflot uses some of Airbus’ Navblue tools. In May 2021, Aeroflot became the first Russian operator to install the Braking Action Computation Function, which evaluates the braking action the aircraft experienced during landing and shares the data with airport ground services departments.

Could Russia rely on its national industry? For domestic flights, some Russian carriers operate locally produced Sukhoi Superjet 100s. Capacity is limited, however, as the fleet stands at 122, according to Fleet Discovery, and their size is in the 70- to 90-seat class.

Thierry Dubois

Thierry Dubois has specialized in aerospace journalism since 1997. An engineer in fluid dynamics from Toulouse-based Enseeiht, he covers the French commercial aviation, defense and space industries. His expertise extends to all things technology in Europe. Thierry is also the editor-in-chief of Aviation Week’s ShowNews.