THE MOTHERLAND’S DEFORMED WINGS

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Russia, bloated with petrodollars, still can’t afford new planes

In the 1960s and 1970s, half the world used aircraft made in our country. We controlled a quarter of the world’s air services market. But no one even mentions Russia as a serious competitor in aviation these days. We’ve turned into the land of second-hand aircraft.


It’s scary enough to take the train when train-bombings keep happening, but it’s even scarier to fly when several plane crashes are reported every month. Military aircraft crash, passenger jets crash – ripping apart hundreds of human lives.

Russia, once a great air power, is now afraid of its own planes. Even on Air Fleet Day, which used to be marked by spectacular air-shows every August, pilots were forbidden to fly this year. Officially forbidden. The order went out to all relevant government agencies.

Quite right, too. What’s the point of celebrating Air Fleet Day when Russia no longer has an air fleet? A country bloated with petrodollars can’t afford to build new planes, train pilots, or transport its citizens safely. Everywhere else in the world, flying is almost like riding a tram these days: fast, affordable, almost entirely safe.

In the 1960s and 1970s, half the world used aircraft made in our country. We controlled a quarter of the world’s air services market. But no one even mentions Russia as a serious competitor in aviation these days. On the contrary, Russia’s leading airlines ponder the question of which planes they should buy: old European Airbuses or old American Boeing jets? How much will it cost to overhaul them and retrain pilots? We’ve turned into the land of second-hand aircraft.

Aviation is no longer a leading sector of the economy, a source of pride for us all. It has become a means for the bureaucracy to pump money out of us tax-payers. This is profitable for everyone involved.

It’s profitable for aircraft-makers and the foreign airlnes which dispose of their old used planes by selling them to Russia.

It’s profitable for Russian airlines which squeeze all they can out of cheap old aircraft, spending hardly anything on maintenance or pilot training.

Who is to blame? No one can be pin-pointed; there are too many people involved.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, each country should have a single aviation administration. In our country, the Civil Aviation Ministry of the USSR was split up in 1991. We ended up with numerous administration bodies, and no one held accountable for anything. Every time another plane crash happens, they’re only concerned with shifting blame away from themselves.

Were any officials punished or dismissed when an A-320 jet crashed near Sochi? Or when an A-310 caught fire on the runway in Irkutsk?

No one was punished. Everyone kept their jobs. And now they’re investigating yet another plane crash.

No one cares about us passengers, since almost all the air-bureaucrats are solely concerned with using aviation to line their own pockets: some make money from the quantity of flights, some make money from aircraft, and some make money from passengers.

The logic used by the bureaucrats seems simple. No one’s forced to fly, after all. We line up of our own accord, asking for trouble. So we ourselves are to blame if anything happens. Just like the pilots who crash in Russia every month.

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