Russia’s national carrier, Aeroflot, is currently operating at least nine planes without brakes due to challenges in obtaining maintenance parts for foreign aircraft.
To cope with the issue of replacing worn-out brakes on Airbus and Boeing aircraft, Aeroflot has instructed its pilots to turn them off, as reported by Moscow Times. The airline has been flying at least nine such aircraft since the end of July 2023, including four Airbus aircraft (A320, A330, and two A321s) and five Boeing 777s.
Aeroflot has issued warnings to its pilots about the potential dangers of flying without brakes. The flight operations department of Aeroflot issued a memo to pilots, which was obtained and published by Aviatorschina. The memo states:
“The aircraft will tend to turn to the side where the brakes are not deactivated. Pay attention to this fact, especially when landing on a wet runway with a crosswind!!! There are restrictions on the width of the runway. The risk of overrunning the runway !!!”
According to the publication, airlines are permitted to operate aircraft with deactivated brakes for a maximum of ten days when the worn-out parts cannot be immediately replaced.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sanctions imposed by Western countries have not only closed the airspaces of the United States, United Kingdom, and EU for Russian aircraft but have also prevented aviation companies from servicing the country’s aircraft or providing spare parts.
As a result, Aeroflot, whose fleet mostly consists of Western-made Airbus and Boeing jets, cannot directly access parts and spares from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). According to ch-aviation.com data, the airline’s fleet comprises 295 aircraft, of which 217 (approximately 74%) are Airbus or Boeing.
To circumvent these restrictions, Aeroflot has reportedly begun sending its aircraft to Iran for maintenance. Iran, having been under heavy sanctions for several decades, is believed to have developed extensive knowledge in repairing aircraft under such circumstances.
Previous media reports have indicated a deteriorating safety situation at Aeroflot. For instance, one Russian investigative news publication claimed that the airline had instructed its staff to stop logging malfunctions on flights to prevent aircraft from being grounded, despite the necessity of fixing the issues.