Russia’s pilots should become mechanics and learn how to maintain aircraft themselves, according to the country’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Oleg Bocharov.
“Together with the Ministry of transport we should prepare and certify pilots as universal soldiers: they should be pilots and mechanics at the same time. And the equipment should include the possibility of field repairs,” Bocharov announced during a session at the Eastern Economic Forum reported by Aviatorschina’s Telegram channel.
While Bocharov primarily talked about regional aviation, his remarks have been widely interpreted as pertaining to Russian aviation as a whole, drawing heavy criticism from various news outlets.
The official also revealed that the ministries are working on a completely new system to maintain the flightworthiness of various types of regional aircraft. According to Bocharov, some aircraft should be modular and allow pilots to replace parts and change the configuration of the cabin themselves.
A system like this would primarily be implemented on the Baikal, an upcoming single-engine turboprop intended to replace Antonov An-2, Bocharov also said.
However, there have been numerous cases of Russian companies struggling with the maintenance of their aircraft and firing large numbers of personnel due to financial problems.
The difficulties began after sanctions were imposed on the Russian aerospace sector because of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. For example, there have been reports of Russian pilots being advised to use an aircraft’s brakes less in order to preserve brake pads and to be “careful” with other parts that are difficult to replace.
Multiple sources have reported that major Russian airlines have already begun to cannibalize planes to keep at least some parts of their fleet airworthy. Additionally, changes were made to Russian aviation law in May 2022 to allow companies to use uncertified parts.
Furthermore, several major airlines furloughed or fired large numbers of personnel when the country’s aviation industry began to take a nosedive.
Companies focused on international flights, such as Russian flag carrier Aeroflot and major cargo airline Volga-Dnepr, were affected the most, while others suffered from a decrease in revenue.