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Sanctioned Russian Aviation Sector Hit By Slew of Incidents in New Year

Sergei Kiselev / Moskva News Agency

Russia's aviation sector, among the industries hardest-hit by Western sanctions over Ukraine, has suffered a number of incidents in the first days of 2023.

Experts and industry figures had voiced concerns about flight safety in 2022, a year that saw more than 130 incidents including 28 plane crashes.

Major plane makers Boeing and Airbus halted deliveries of new foreign jets and spare parts, forcing Russian airlines to “cannibalize” grounded aircraft

Most Western countries closed their airspace to Russian aircraft in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, triggering Moscow to impose reciprocal measures.

Here’s a look at the aviation incidents which have hit Russia so far in 2023:

— Jan. 5:

A Utair passenger flight was forced to land in western Siberia due to an air conditioning malfunction. 

Regional prosecutors who announced an inspection did not identify the aircraft make, though flight tracking tools say a Boeing 737 performed recent flights on the same route.

— Jan. 6:

An Azur Air international flight to Thailand with 263 people on board returned to Novosibirsk six hours after takeoff due to windshield damage.

Later that day, a Red Wings domestic flight to Yekaterinburg returned to Kazan after takeoff due to failure to pull up the aircraft’s landing gear.

— Jan. 8:

A Pobeda airliner slid off the runway into the snow in Perm, causing pilots to abort a flight to Moscow. The Perm airport said the passengers escaped unharmed and the plane was not damaged.

— Jan. 9:

A lavatory breakdown forced an S7 Airlines Airbus A320neo from Bratsk to Moscow to land in Kazan after four hours in the air.

Two people died and four others were injured when a Soviet-era An-2 passenger aircraft crashed in the Russian Far East in freezing weather.

Another Soviet transport aircraft, an IrAero An-26, had its cargo compartment door partially open mid-flight in Russia’s Far East. 

Dramatic footage filmed by a passenger showed him seated in the depressurized cabin at a high altitude with loud winds blowing and the open door visible in the background.

Passengers said some of their luggage and hats were sucked out as the pilot returned the Magadan-bound plane to Yakutsk. None of the 31 passengers on board were injured.

— Jan. 10:

A NordStar Boeing 737 slid off the icy runway north of the Arctic Circle, delaying the flight to Moscow for 116 passengers and six crew members. An inspection ruled the aircraft safe enough to perform the flight later that day.

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