| JRL Home | JRL Simple/Mobile | RSS | Newswire | Archives | JRL Newsletter | Support | About
Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Plans to improve Russian transport safety hit flaws

Plans to make Russian aviation safer could be grounded by a lack of suitable aircraft, while experts admit that the country's waterways are badly under-regulated. After a string of transport disasters in recent weeks, calls for change have come from the very top, but there are fears that even this will have little impact.

In Siberia small local airlines say it will be impossible to phase out aging aircraft ­ because adequate replacements are simply unavailable.

And as investigators uncover a litany of safety breaches on Russia's waterways, Sunday's Moskva River tragedy has highlighted concerned at the lack of regulation for smaller vessels.

Airlines alarmed

The "Yakutia" airline, serving the vast, yet sparsely populated territories of Eastern Siberia, is heavily reliant on An-24 turbo-prop passenger aircraft.

With a capacity of about 50 people and a short-medium flight range, these planes are ideally suited to a local carrier.

But the aging craft are set to be banned after a fatal crash last month ­ and their intended replacement, the up-to-date An-140 is largely unavailable.

In the past decade just 19 An-140-100s have been produced, Moskovskiye Novosti reported, compared with 1,400 An-24s churned out in Soviet times.

The head of Yakutia, Yegor Borisov, told journalists that it was therefore impossible to replace the old craft with Russian-made equivalents.

"Our plans to replace An-24s with An-140s will not come true as a result of the termination of their production," he said. "I know that after two or three years we in Yakutia, and the rest of the country, will collapse if we cannot replace the An-24 and An-3."

Saving money

In Yakutsk the authorities are looking at foreign-made planes, following the recent example of Krasnoyark Airlines, which is buying in from China.

And the cost ­ $20 million ­ of a new An-140 is widely regarded as excessive. Local airlines, often funded by the local authorities, simply cannot afford this for short-haul flights with relatively few passengers.

"The financial situation of local airlines is so complicated that without subsidies they cannot build a business plan on the basis of these aircraft," Aeroport agency's chief analyst Oleg Panteleyev told MN.

As a result carriers are urging the authorities to postpone scrapping the An-24 until Jan. 2015.

Murky waters

While aviation safety is at least getting high-level attention, the dangers of Russia's waterways are largely neglected.

Sunday's tragedy in Moscow would have gone largely unremarked had it not come hard on the heels of the "Bulgaria" disaster, according to Pavel Seliverstov of the city's transport investigation department.

He told MN that there were relatively few accidents involving small boats, with just a handful in the last couple of years.

But if incidents like the death of a young woman sliced up by a propeller last summer are mercifully rare, this appears to be more down to good luck than good judgment.

"It's not regulated at all, and effectively I'm afraid nobody cares what happens on the water," Seliverstov said.

"It is impossible to be sure that all the boats meet appropriate safety standards, or even to determine how many are sailing in the capital. Even if a boat passes an inspection it does not mean that it meets all standards.

"Generally it's all covered with darkness and mystery."


Keyword Tags:

Russia, Disasters - Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

Bookmark and Share - Back to the Top -        


Bookmark and Share

- Back to the Top -        

  Follow Johnson's Russia List on Twitter Tweet