Aging Russian AF Crumbling -
Radars Failing - Planes
Often Fly 'Blind'
By Anna Blundy
The Times (London)
From Gerry Lovell <>
RUSSIAN air traffic controllers joke grimly that ageing equipment and staff cutbacks have reduced their duties to simply noting down take-offs and landings. There have been 36 air crashes in the Russian Air Force alone over the past six years, claiming 276 lives.
A report in Novye Izvestia said that Russian planes had been "flying blind" since the closure of dozens of air traffic control centres across the country. The fact that Russia can barely afford to maintain its ageing fleet of planes is already well known.
Even at Sheremetevo II, Moscow's international airport, air traffic controllers often have to visualise the positions of incoming planes mentally when equipment fails, the report alleges. Instructions, says the Union of Air Traffic Controllers, are often based on guesswork. To economise, many regional airports have limited take-offs and landings to daylight hours, meaning that these airports are unmanned overnight, despite the fact that many Russian and foreign airlines use them for emergencies.