News from Russia that two major private airlines, Ural Airlines and Kuban Airlines, announced earlier that they would phase out their “ancient” Soviet built aircraft will send shivers down the spines of the African aviation scene observers. In the past Africa has been a dumping ground for the planes of Antonov and Ilyushin make, which were cheap to acquire but were fuel guzzlers of the highest order, difficult to maintain.
Soviet era built aircraft were regularly involved in many aviation accidents witnessed across the continent, in the Congo DR, the Sudan and elsewhere , taking hundreds of lives in the process over poor or absent maintenance and lack of prescribed crew training.
While the more foresighted aviation regulators have joined the technologically advanced rest of the world in banning these flying monsters, several countries still appear willing to have these types of aircraft registered, giving them certificates of airworthiness and permitting airlines to use them.
Subsequently, many of those aircraft now phased out in Russia, following a government directive after a few more fatal accidents, will into scrap heap, but likely be sold to African operators and airline owners who know well what they are getting into, for profit considerations and little else, as if African lives count less than those in Russia. It remains to be seen if the latest wave of decommissioning Soviet era aircraft will once again see Africa becoming a dumping ground for derelict and very dangerous machines often described here as “flying coffins”.