Russian airline UTair, which operates one of the world’s largest civilian helicopter fleets, may ground one third of the fleet before the end of this year because of it cannot source enough engine parts and spares, as reported in several Russian media outlets.
UTair operates a fleet of 320 helicopters of various types, including several versions of the ubiquitous Mi-8 and Mi-17, and the Mi26 heavy lifter, as well as Western built models, such as the Eurocopter AS355N and H125.
Speaking at ‘HeliRussia 2023’, an industry trade show in Moscow, UTAir’s CEO pointed out that, in addition to the inaccessibility of components for Western helicopters, there are also issues with servicing Russian-made rotorcraft, due to the domestic industry not being able to deliver engine supplies in enough quantities.
These issues, which are apparently affecting other Russian helicopter operators too, may impact the ability of Russian helicopter operators to provide their services in remote areas of the country that are dependent on air transport. For instance, civilian helicopters are used extensively in Siberia to support the oil, gas and forestry industries as well as to provide transportation to and from remote settlements.