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European official worried about Russia flying Western-made planes

A top EU aviation safety official has expressed concern that Russia is using Western-made planes without access to spare parts and proper maintenance, calling the situation “very unsafe.”

U.S.-based Boeing and Europe’s Airbus stopped sending spare parts to Russian carriers in March, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on Tuesday, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Patrick Ky said regulators don’t have good data on how many Western-made planes are flying in Russia, Reuters reported.

He added that regulators should consider exemptions for Russia “on a case by case basis” if needed “for humanitarian reasons … but then it should not become the norm.”

The safety official stressed that the situation could get worse over time. “In six months — who knows? In one year — who knows?” he said. He also noted there were reports Russia could be forced to “cannibalize” airplanes — taking parts from one aircraft to keep another one operating.

European MEPs passed a resolution last month demanding that Russia return “stolen airplanes,” deploring that “Russia, in clear breach of international civil aviation rules, has forced airplanes leased from foreign companies to re-register in Russia’s aircraft register.”

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