I had done a "Post" a few days ago about Russia putting paper on the Airworthiness certifications on the leased Western planes that certain Russian airlines have, well "RedWings have gone to Topalov operations rather than dealing with the Western planes and the certification hassles. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few years. Russia had made huge strides in the safety of their airlines and their airplanes and using Western airplanes was a huge part of their safety record, now with some of the airplanes going back to Soviet and Russian metal, will this play havoc with the safety record of the Russian commercial aviation?, Well time will tell.
Red Wings was the last Russian airline to operate a passenger version of the Tu-204.
Russian airline Red Wings plans to expand its fleet with four Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-204/214 narrowbody airliners.
An airline representative confirmed to Aviation Daily that a preliminary agreement with Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) will see one Tu-204 and one Tu-214 delivered in 2023. Two more Tupolev airliners will join the carrier’s fleet a year later.
Red Wings will take the aircraft from its owner Ilyushin Finance, which in turn is UAC’s leasing subsidiary. The exact airframes to be restored to airworthiness have not yet been chosen, a Red Wings representative says.
But there is a chance that the Tu-204 may have been previously operated by Red Wings, which was the last airline to operate a passenger version of the Tu-204 in Russia. It retired its last five Tu-204s at the end of 2018, replacing the Russian-made aircraft with Airbus A320 narrowbodies. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, the Western-made aircraft have been grounded.
As a result, Red Wings now has no medium-range narrowbody capacity; it is operating 17 Russian-made SSJ100 regional jets and three Boeing 777 widebodies. Two more Superjets are expected to arrive before the end of this year, the airline confirmed to Aviation Daily. The airline carried 2.99 million passengers in 2021, placing it 10th among Russia’s largest carriers.
The Tu-204 was certified in 1994 and is now being operated in Russia only in freight or government and corporate variants. The type is no longer in serial production, but UAC still assembles one or two Tu-214 airframes per year for government customers.
UAC plans to expand the assembly rate of the Tu-214 up to 10 aircraft annually from 2025 to satisfy demand from domestic carriers who have no access to foreign-made aircraft because of the Western sanctions imposed in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The government expects UAC to roll out 70 newly assembled Tu-214s through 2030.
The Tu-214 variant was certified in 2000 and is assembled at UAC’s facility in Kazan. Two additional fuel tanks differentiate it from the Tu-204 and these extend its range, enabling it to carry up to 210 passengers for 6,500 km (3,500 nm).
In Russia the only Tu-214s regularly flying are for government air wings, in corporate, radio relay and airborne command modifications. However, Ilyushin Finance still has three stored Tu-214s in passenger configuration which were operated by airline Dalavia in the 2000s before its bankruptcy.
The Red Wings official adds that the airline’s strategy also calls for expanding the fleet with new Russian aircraft types like Superjet NEW jets and MC-21 narrowbody airliners. But the first commercial operator of these new types is likely to be Aeroflot subsidiary Rossiya Airlines.
UAC rolled out its MC-21-300 flight prototype with registration number RA-73054 repainted in Rossiya livery on Nov. 24. This aircraft, equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines and other Western components, will stay with UAC and be used for training, initially of Rossiya’s instructor pilots, the Russian manufacturer says. According to UAC, two more test aircraft are expected to get the Rossiya livery.
Rossiya tells Aviation Daily that details of the crew training program were being discussed with UAC now and the start date was yet to be decided. Rossiya has 210 aircraft of the type on order which will be delivered in the new MC-21-310RUS variant—stripped of all Western-made parts. The first six aircraft are expected to arrive in 2024.
That's going to be interesting... And I'm glad I don't have to go to that part of the world!ReplyDelete